Holy petaflops: IBM’s new supercomputer is set to take top spot as world’s fastest

For the first time since 2012, a US supercomputer has dethroned China from the top spot as the world’s fastest and smartest.

June 11, 2018

The world’s fastest computer is ranked twice annually by computer scientists in the US and Germany and, for the last 5 years, China has owned the title.

China’s Sunway TaihuLight has taken the top honors for the last 2 years, but, as of last Friday, a US-made supercomputer by IBM is expected to top the rankings for the first time since 2012.

Its name is Summit, and it’s really friggin’ fast  

According to IBM, we’re talking 200 petaflops fast (that’s a processing rate of 200 quadrillion calculations per second), or as the Wall Street Journal puts it, “200,000 trillion.”

It’s reportedly so fast that it would take 6.3B people to make a calculation at the same time, every second, for an entire year to match what this $200m supermachine can do in a single second.

These massive refrigerators occupy space of two tennis courts, and chug 4k gallons of water a minute to cool 37k processors.

Putting the super back in supercomputer

While cloud computing is stealing a lot of thunder these days, experts believe high-performance computing is still a necessity for things like national security, science, and economic competitiveness (Summit in particular is the first of its kind to handle machine learning, neural networks, and other AI applications).

All important stuff — but, for now, Summit’s at the bar celebrating at twice the peak speed of the Sunway TaihuLight.

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