Department of Energy Unveils World’s Most Powerful Supercomputer

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has unveiled a new supercomputer, named “Summit,” that it claims is the world’s most powerful.

Summit is said to be eight times faster than the Titan supercomputer, the nearly $100 million system that became available to researchers in 2013, that Summit will replace.

Summit will also re-establish the United States atop the perch of global supercomputing, with Summit replacing the Sunway Taihulight, based in Guangzhou, China, as the world’s most-powerful supercomputer, boasting a speed of 200 petaflops (one “petaflop” is the ability of the supercomputer to “do one quadrillion floating point operations” in a single second), almost double the speed of the Taihulight.

The system’s incredible capability will be put to good use. As summarized by Carten Cordell of FedScoop, “Summit will provide scientists at Oak Ridge with the ability to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to study everything from the evolution of cellular systems to simulating supernova explosions and identifying the disease factors of cancer.”

Cordell also notes that the supercomputer’s debut “comes nearly a year after the TOP500 global survey of supercomputers knocked the U.S. from the top three in the world for the second time in 24 years,” with Summit’s predecessor, Titan, finishing in fourth place.

Cordell writes that Summit “is composed of an IBM AC922 system featuring 4,608 compute servers and six NVIDIA Tesla V100 graphics processing unit accelerators with 10 petabytes of memory.”

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry released a statement in support of the supercomputer’s unveiling, saying, “I am truly excited by the potential of Summit, as it moves the nation one step closer to the goal of delivering an exascale supercomputing system by 2021.”

“Summit will empower scientists to address a wide range of new challenges, accelerate discovery, spur innovation and, above all, benefit the American people,” Perry concluded.

The lab’s associate director for computing and computational sciences, Jeff Nichols, will be on tomorrow’s episode of FedTalk on Federal News Radio discussing Summit.

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