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The Worlds’ Five Most Powerful Supercomputers

The World’s Five Most Powerful Supercomputers

In the last 100 years, technology has grown at a rapid rate. It was only 35 years ago that Macintosh released the first-ever graphic user-interfaced computers, which were intended to be used by the everyday person. Computers were still rather exclusive then, and not many households could afford one. Computers and smartphones are now widely accessible and used by the majority of people. They have been incorporated into almost every aspect of our lives. Today the modern smartphone is more powerful than the first supercomputer, which was released in 1955, and was used to research human genomes. As fast and incredible as many high-end computers are, they cannot compare to the five most powerful supercomputers on the planet in 2019.

A supercomputer makes use of thousands of processors that can perform incredible amounts of calculations per second. They are so powerful, and they can do more work in an hour than what an average computer can do in 30 years.

The top five supercomputers have all been developed either by the US or China, and the race for the most powerful supercomputer is on. The top position, according to Top500 is currently held by Summit.

1. Summit:

summit supercomputer

summit supercomputer

Summit is currently the most powerful supercomputer in the world. It was developed by IBM for Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It was funded by the US Department of Energy and as of February 2019, is the third most energy-efficient in the world.

It broke the top speed record of 100 petaflops and has already been used for groundbreaking scientific work as five of the six nominees for the Gordan Bell Prize made use of Summit. It is being used to research extremely complex problems and help find solutions for them – such as artificial intelligence, human health, and energy, according to Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Here are its specs:
Top speed (Linpack performance): 143,5petaflops
Total cores: 2,397,824
Memory: 2,801,664 GB
Power: 9,783.00 kW

2. Sierra:

sierra supercomputer

sierra supercomputer

Sierra is another supercomputer that was developed by IBM and is currently on Top500’s list of supercomputers at number two. It is housed in the Lawerence Livermore National Library. It is used by the US National Nuclear Security Administration in order to stockpile and assess nuclear weapons and their capabilities. It is vital as it ensures the safety, reliability, and effectiveness of the US nuclear weapons.

Here are its specs:
Top speed: 125 petaflops
Total cores: 1,572,480
Memory: 1,382,400 GB
Power: 7,438.28 kW

3. Sunway TaihuLight:

National Super Computer Center in Guangzhou 897x350

National Super Computer Center in Guangzhou 897×350

This supercomputer held the spot for the most powerful supercomputer for two years prior to Summit. It is the first Chinese supercomputer that was built entirely out of domestic parts.

This was a response to sanctions that the US had placed on China. Before this, China had plans to increase the Tianhe-2’s capabilities. It was developed by the National Research Centre of Parallel Computer Engineering and Technology.
It currently holds the third position in the Top500’s list of supercomputers.

Here are its specs:
Top speed (Linpack performance): 93 petaflops
Total cores: 10,649,600
Memory: 1,310,720 GB
Power: 15,371.00 kW

4. Tianhe-2

Tianhe 2

Tianhe 2

Tianhe-2 is another supercomputer born out of China. Its name literally means Heavens River or the Milky Way. It was developed by the Chinese National University of Defense, by a team of 1 300 scientists and engineers. It held its position at the top of the Top500’s list in supercomputers for nearly three years before it was surpassed by Sunway TaihuLight.

There were plans to double its capabilities in 2015. However, they were not able to be fulfilled as the US placed trading sanctions on China, and Intel processors and CPU’s could not be imported into China. This supercomputer was also completed two years before its proposed completion date and was in operation in June 2013. However, researchers have said it is too difficult to use.

Here are its specs:
Top speed: 61.4 petaflops
Total cores: 4,981,760
Memory: 2,277,376 GB
Power: 18,482.00 kW

5. Fronterra



Frontera is considered fifth on the Top500’s list of supercomputers worldwide. It was developed by the Texas Advanced Computing Centre. Although it is listed as the fifth most powerful supercomputer in the world, it is the fastest supercomputer on a university computer.

It has made it possible for researchers and scientists to approach much larger amounts of research and complex challenges. The National Science Foundation in the US awarded the Texas Advanced Computing Centre with $60 million to create Frontera. It is developed with Intel.

Here are its specs:
Top speed(Linpack performance): 23,5 petaflops
Total cores: 448,448
Memory: 1,537,536 GB
Power: 65 kW per node


Supercomputers have become a vital part of scientific research, and they are being used in order to solve extremely difficult and complex challenges. The race between the US and China to develop the most powerful supercomputer has resulted in incredible machines that are being used to run incredible amounts of data to solve serious issues.
It has only been 64 years since the development of the first supercomputer, which a modern-day smartphone could outperform. Frontier is next in line to become the world’s most powerful supercomputer and is said to be operational by 2021 and will be used by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory by the US Department of Energy.
It makes one wonder what’s to come in the future, and what solutions these incredible machines could present to the ever-growing list of complex problems faced by humanity.

Written by The Original PC Doctor on 3/12/2019.


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