China held the lead for the last 5 years, but the United States now has the world’s fastest supercomputer. The machine, called Summit, was built for Oak Ridge National Laboratory in partnership with IBM and NVidia, and is designed for AI applications.
Today’s supercomputers are made up of thousands of connected processors, and their speed has grown exponentially over the past few decades. The first supercomputer, released in 1964, was called the CDC 6600. It used a single processor to achieve 3 million calculations per second. While that may sound impressive, it is tens of thousands of times slower than an iPhone.
The Lab Director of Oak Ridge, Thomas Zacharia, says, “I’ve always thought of supercomputing as a time machine, in the sense that it allows you to do things that most other people will be able to do in the future.” As he explains, smartphones today are more powerful than the supercomputers used in the 1990s to work on the Human Genome Project.
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What Is A Supercomputer? | CNBC