What comes to your mind when you think of speed? Formula One Cars? Well that too, but also Supercomputers!!! Let’s just say that supercomputers are the Formula One Cars of the tech world with insane speeds reaching up to 143,500 TeraFlops per second(that’s for the fastest supercomputer in the world). Because of this unbelievable speed, supercomputers are used for a variety of purposes such as weather mapping, artificial intelligence, weapons simulation, machine learning, deep learning, etc.
This article discusses the top 10 of the world’s fastest supercomputers according to the TOP500 project. These supercomputers are arranged according to their Linpack performance, which is an approximate measure of their speed for any individual program. It is obtained by running a computer program that solves a complicated system of linear equations. The theoretical peak performance, on the other hand, is a theoretical measure of the supercomputer speed that merely provides an upper bound on performance.
Now that we have speedily discussed these matters, let’s move on to the supercomputers!!!
Summit is an apt name for this US supercomputer as it is currently at the summit of speed! It is the fastest supercomputer in the world as of November 2018. It was developed by IBM for use at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and has a mind-boggling 2,397,824 cores. Summit also uses the RHEL 7.4 Operating system for operations and as if all that were not enough…It is the 3rd most energy efficient supercomputer in the world.
Sierra is a US supercomputer that accelerated from number 3 in the last rankings to number 2 currently. It is housed in the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and primarily used for predictive applications in Stockpile stewardship. Sierra currently has 1,572,480 Cores and uses the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Operating System. Also, its architecture is quite similar to that of Summit (no wonder its number 2!).
3. Sunway TaihuLight
Sunway TaihuLight is a Chinese supercomputer that was the fastest from June 2016 to June 2018 but is now at number 3. It was designed at the National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology and is located at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, China. Sunway TaihuLight has 10,649,600 Cores and it does not use any accelerator chips (Which is remarkable for a supercomputer!). Also, the Operating system used by Sunway TaihuLight Sunway RaiseOS 2.0.5 which is based on Linux.
Tianhe-2A is also a Chinese supercomputer that has maintained its previous rank of number 4 in the Top500 list. It was earlier the world’s fastest supercomputer until it was replaced by Sunway TaihuLight (China is on fire!!!). Tianhe-2A is located in the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou, China and has 4,981,760 Cores. Tianhe-2A uses the Kylin Linux Operating system which is based on Linux like Sunway TaihuLight.
5. Piz Daint
Piz Daint is a Swizz supercomputer that was named after the Piz Daint mountain in the Swiss Alps. It was the third most powerful supercomputer in 2016 but it has since climbed down the mountain! to rest at number 5 currently. Piz Daint is located at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre and it has 387,872 cores. The Operating system used by Piz Daint is Cray Linux Environment (Linux seems like a common theme in supercomputers!)
Trinity is a supercomputer that is housed at the Alamos National Laboratory of the US Department of Energy. It has improved its ranking by landing at number 6 from number 9 last year. Trinity uses an Intel Xeon Phi processor (the only one to do so in this top 10 list) with 979,072 cores and it has a Cray Linux Environment Operating system (The same as Piz Daint).
7. AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure (ABCI)
AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure is a Japanese supercomputer at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. It was completed in 2018 and is majorly used for artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning (like its name suggests!). ABCI has 391,680 Cores and it uses the Linux Operating system.
SuperMUC-NG is a German supercomputer situated at Leibniz Rechenzentrum, Munich. Like ABCI, SuperMUC-NG is also a new supercomputer completed in 2018. It is the most powerful supercomputer that uses x86 processes and 305,856 Cores. Also, SuperMUC-NG uses the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 SP3 Operating system (Whew!!! That name’s a mouthful).
Titan is a US supercomputer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory that is used mostly for science projects. It was the fastest supercomputer in the world in 2012 but has slipped down the list to land at number 9 (not quite a Titan now!). Titan has 560,640 Cores and it uses the Cray Linux Environment Operating system.
Sequoia is a US supercomputer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Apparently the US has a lot of supercomputers!). Sequoia was also once the fastest supercomputer in the world but since then it has just managed to stick to the top 10. It is part of the IBM Blue Gene/Q project with 1,572,864 Cores and Linux Operating system.