Radio Free HPC Looks at the New Summit Supercomputer at ORNL


"We reached a pinnacle today".

American supercomputer Summit twice surpassed the performance level of the device Sunway TaihuLight made in China with indicators 93 petaflops.

IBM says its supercomputer called Summit based at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, can perform 200 thousand trillion calculations each second, a speed called 200 petaflops. There have been cuts elsewhere in the department, but the budget for its advanced computing program is being increased by 39 percent in the two fiscal years ending September 2019, said Paul Dabarr, the Energy Department's undersecretary for science.

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Summit also brings the title of world's fastest computer back to the US It comes as the race between America and China for technological supremacy is being taken more seriously by US lawmakers, who are concerned about the billions China is spending on artificial intelligence and quantum computing.

It uses 185 miles worth of fiber optic cables, enough to span the distance between NY and Baltimore. The interconnect is also fast with 25 gigabits per second of interconnect between nodes, powered by Mellanox's Infiniband. All in all, Summit's system has over 10 petabytes of memory.

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Researchers and government officials will use Summit to carry out a variety of tasks tied to machine learning, neural networks and artificial intelligence. "Its software will write software, wonderful software that no human can write", Jenson said.

"Summit's AI-optimized hardware also gives researchers an incredible platform for analyzing massive datasets and creating intelligent software to accelerate the pace of discovery", Jeff Nichols, Oak Ridge associate laboratory director for computing and computational sciences, said in a statement. During a Friday afternoon ceremony, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Summit can save 30 years worth of desktop data in one hour.

It would be interesting to see how long can the US maintain its top position in the supercomputing race! To put that in human terms, approximately 6.3 billion people would all have to make a calculation at the same time to match what Summit can do in just one second.

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US lawmakers who are anxious about the amount that China is spending on AI and quantum computing, will see the supercomputer as move towards technological supremacy, especially as Beijing has vowed to strengthen its defense ties with Russian Federation as a foil to American military might. The US plans to increase its funding in high-performance computing, Perry said, with the goal of building a system capable of exascale (1000 petaflop) computing by 2021.