THE USA has regained the crown of 'world's fastest supercomputer' after Summit, the new machine installed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, was switched on.
The Summit is capable of up to 200 petaflops (but use 'up to' in the same way as a broadband provider) or 200,000 teraflops.
In human terms, that's 6.3 billion calculations per-second-per-year-per-second. Or in normal human terms, 6.3 billion humans doing one calculation per second for a year is what Summit can do in one second.
It's the first time that the US has held that fastest supercomputer title in just over five years, since when Chinese computers have seen the top speed rise from 125 petaflops to 200 petaflops.
But make no mistake, this is no friendly race. Supercomputers can be used for everything from wiping out disease to predicting the weather, to planning Mars voyages, to erm… well, choosing names for paint.
Although the US has the fastest, China has a significantly larger slice of the Top 500 fastest computers in the world, and other powers including the EU and Russia are snapping at the heels of the two lead players. This isn't just some rivalry - it's the new space race or even the new arms race. Since you ask, the UK has 15, behind France, Germany, and Japan.
The US is already looking at exaflop computers and there's little doubt that China will be doing the same. After all - cracked calculations lead to cracked encryption and the security agencies of the world will ruddy love that.
The Oak Ridge machine is also the first designed with artificial intelligence in mind, and that's kind of a big deal too. A more powerful computer will give more calculations which will give a far accelerated rate of learning, making it far more useful than a "dumb" supercomputer of the past.
Or far more deadly, depending who you believe. µ
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