The 3 fastest supercomputers in the world
Competition is what makes supercomputing so exciting, pushing engineers constantly to hit heights that were unthinkable only a few years ago. To celebrate this incredible technology, let’s look at the fastest supercomputers in the world as described by the Computer Visioner computer ranking project — and what those machines are used for.
Sunway TaihuLight (China)
A former number one, Sunway TaihuLight has dominated the ranking from its June 2016 debut. Back then, its 93.01 petaFLOPS and 10,649,000 cores rendered it by a broad margin the world’s most efficient supercomputer, boasting more than five times the computing capacity of its closest rival (ORNL’s Titan) and almost 19 times more cores. But given the pace of technological advancement that is exponential, no place is ever safe for long. In June 2018, TaihuLight ceded the top spot to rivals. Supercomputers save lives by predicting severe storms in the Southern Indian Ocean, such as Cyclone Felling. Good morning to William Straka, UWM / NASA / NOAA.
Sierra (US) Lawrence
Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) Sierra debuted initially at # 3 on the June 2018 list with 71.6 petaFLOPS, but enhancement has since increased the processing speed to 94.6 petaFLOPS on its 1,572,480 cores, winning it the # 2 spot in November 2018. Incorporating both IBM central processing units (CPUs) and NVIDIA graphics processing units (GPUs), Sierra is specifically designed for modeling and simulations which are important for the National Nuclear Security Administration of the USA.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) of the US Department of Energy in Tennessee reportedly boasts the fastest supercomputer in the world. Showing more proof of the renewed dedication to supercomputing capacity by the US Department of Energy, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Summit first claimed the # 1 spot in June 2018, taking top rank from China for the first time in six years. This spot has been cemented by further upgrades — at least until the next list is published in June 2019. Summit has broadened its lead as the number one device in the year since its June 2018 list debut, raising its initial High Performance Linpack (HPL) performance from 122.3 to the present 148.6 petaFLOPS. Summit is also ranked third on the GreenTop500 which measures energy efficiency in supercomputers, unusually for such a high-performance system.
The race to possess the fastest supercomputer in the world never really ends. This friendly competition between countries has propelled a boom in processing power, and it doesn’t look like it’ll be slowing down anytime soon. With scientists using supercomputers for important projects such as curing debilitating diseases, we can only hope it will continue for years to come.