The world’s two fastest supercomputers are now in the US, according to the rankings that are released biannually.
Both computers, Summit and Sierra, both use IBM technology. Summit was crowned the world’s fastest computer back in June when it performed the mathematical test LINPACK at 122.3 petaflops per second. (Each petaflop is one quintillion math operations.)
It’s since received more upgrades, and can now perform the test at 143.5 petaflops per second, giving it a huge lead over the other 499 supercomputers on the list.
Meanwhile, Sierra trails behind Summit with 1.6 million processor cores to Summit’s 2.4 million. Other than that, both supercomputers run on similar specs: IBM Power9 processors with Nvidia Tesla V100 accelerator chips.
Its fewer processor cores notwithstanding, Sierra was able to edge a Chinese computer, the Sunway TaihuLight, off the list through a recent upgrade that boosted its computing power from 71.6 petaflops to 94.6 petaflops.
The US government has invested in the supercomputers arms race, recently pouring $258 million in 2017 into funding companies like IBM, Cray, AMD, Intel, and Nvidia to build computers that can perform these incredible feats of calculation.
The supercomputers can be applied to forecast climate change, look into a cure for cancer, and research nuclear fusion, among other tasks.
Overall, five of the top 10 supercomputers are American, two are Chinese, and Switzerland, Japan, and Germany each have one.