Summit supercomputer is world’s fastest

Will enable researchers to apply techniques like machine learning and deep learning to scientific discoveries that were previously impractical or impossible
June 12, 2018

(credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory)

Summit — the world’s most powerful supercomputer, with a peak performance of 200,000 trillion calculations per second, or 200 petaflops* peak performance — was announced June 8 by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

The previous leading supercomputer was China’s Sunway TaihuLight, with 125 petaflops peak performance.**

Summit will enable researchers to apply techniques like machine learning and deep learning to problems in human health such as genetics and cancer, high-energy physics (such as astrophysics and fusion energy), discovery of new materials, climate modeling, and other scientific discoveries that were previously impractical or impossible, according to ORNL.

“It’s at least a hundred times more computation than we’ve been able to do on earlier machines,” said ORNL computational astrophysicist Bronson Messer.

Summit supercomputer chips (credit: ORNL)

Summit’s IBM system has more than 10 petabytes (10,000 trillion bytes) of memory and 4,608 servers — each containing two 22-core IBM Power9 processors and six NVIDIA Tesla V100 graphics processing unit (GPU) accelerators. (“For IBM, Summit represents a great opportunity to showcase its Power9-GPU AC922 server to other potential HPC  and enterprise customers,” notes Michael Feldman, Managing Editor of Top 500 News.)

Exascale next

Summit will be eight times more powerful than ORNL’s previous top-ranked system, Titan. For certain scientific applications, Summit will also be capable of more than three billion billion mixed-precision calculations per second, or 3.3 exaops.

Summit is a step closer to the U.S. goal of creating an exascale (1 exaflop* or 1,000 petaflops) supercomputing system by 2021. (However, China has multiple exaflop projects expected to be running a year or more before the U.S. has a system at that level, according to EE Times.)

Summit is part of the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility at DOE’s Office of Science .

(credit: ORNL)

* A petaflop is 1015 (1000 trillion) floating point operations per second (“floating point” refers to the large number of decimal-point locations required for the wide range or numbers used in scientific calculations, including very small numbers and very large numbers). An exaflop is 1018 floating point operations per second.

** The “peak” rating refers to a supercomputer’s theoretical maximum performance. A more meaningful measure is “Rmax” — a score that describes a supercomputer’s maximal measured performance on a Linpack benchmark. Rmax for the Summit has not yet been announced.