You are probably reading this on your smartphone or laptop. Either way, you are using a form of the computer so as to speak. For several years now, the world has been trying to win in terms of the supercomputing arms race. The world’s fastest supercomputer, Aurora – an exascale, is slated to make its debut in the United States in 2021. According to the reports, it will be the first supercomputer to break the ‘exascale’ barrier.
It is going to get a bit technical now, so put on your engineering caps! Supercomputers’ performance is measured in flops. A flop is the name given to the calculation per second. So, a computer that has ten flops can carry out ten calculations per second. Your laptop or a desktop computer is capable of carrying out several teraflops or trillions of calculations per second – just to give you an idea!
The best-performing supercomputer currently is the Summit computer that is located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The Summit computer can offer 150 petaflops – several thousand times the processing capability of a general laptop. Other supercomputers can achieve a few dozen petaflops, but the supercomputer industry is aiming for coming up with the first exascale computer. The exascale supercomputer will be able to carry out a quintillion calculations per second. To give you a perspective; an exascale supercomputer will be a million times faster than your typical laptop or desktop computer. Such a computer will help scientific and artificial intelligence research to leap forward!
In light of an announcement that comes from the Department of Energy, the very first exascale computer is making its way to the US. All thanks to the $500 million from the Department of Energy, the exascale computer named Aurora is being manufactured at Argonne National Laboratory. Aurora is being built using technology and architecture from Intel.
Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry said, ‘Aurora and the next-generation of exascale supercomputers will apply [high-performance computing] and AI technologies to areas such as cancer research, climate modeling, and veterans’ health treatments. The innovative advancements that will be made with exascale will have an incredibly significant impact on our society.’