Summit: US unveils world’s most powerful supercomputer

NASHVILLE – The United States on Monday debuted world’s most powerful supercomputer – Summit – with a peak performance of 200000trillion calculations per second – or 200 petaflops.

It also has 4608 servers, 9,216 processors boosted with 27,648 graphics chips, and is as big as two tennis courts. This way Summit dethrones China Sunway Taiulight as world’s most powerful supercomputer from its number one position.

China’s Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer, until now the world’s most powerful machine, has a processing power of 93 petaflops.

Summit’s initial uses will include areas of astrophysics, cancer research and systems biology.

It is housed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee, where it was developed in partnership with IBM and NVidia.

Supercomputers are typically large, expensive systems featuring tens of thousands of processors designed to carry out specialised calculation-intensive tasks.

Summit contains 4,608 computing servers and has more than 10 petabytes of memory.

ORNL director Dr Thomas Zacharia said in a speech to mark its launch on 8 June that Summit had already been used to run a comparative genomics code while it was being built.

“Literally as the machine was being assembled they were getting on the machine and running,” he said.

“Imagine [driving a] race car while you’re putting the tyres on.”

In the most recent chart of the world’s top supercomputers, published in 2017, the US owned 143 of the top 500 while China owned 202.

The United States’ previous fastest supercomputer, Titan, was ranked fifth.