Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) launched the fastest and smartest supercomputer in the world called Summit. Built by IBM, the Summit supercomputer will support research projects in several fields including artificial intelligence (AI), energy, advanced materials, etc.
Summit will provide a peak performance of 200 quadrillion calculations per second (200 petaflops), which is around a million times faster than a normal laptop. Oak Bridge said that the new supercomputer can also deliver over three billion mixed precision calculations per second (3.3 exaops) for certain scientific calculations.
The backbone of Summit’s computational power is the 4608 interconnected servers, each of which is equipped with two 22-core IBM Power9 processors and six Nvidia Tesla V100 graphic cards. The reason behind choosing Nvidia chips is because they’re optimized to run AI models.
“From its genesis 75 years ago, ORNL has a history and culture of solving large and difficult problems with national scope and impact,” said ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia. “ORNL scientists were among the scientific teams that achieved the first gigaflops calculations in 1988, the first teraflops calculations in 1998, the first petaflops calculations in 2008 and now the first exaops calculations in 2018. The pioneering research of ORNL scientists and engineers has played a pivotal role in our nation’s history and continues to shape our future. We look forward to welcoming the scientific user community to Summit as we pursue another 75 years of leadership in science.”
Oak Ridge said that its new baby is the first supercomputer to be built around AI in mind. It will help researchers to apply machine learning and deep learning technologies in projects related to health, high-energy physics, materials discovery, etc.
“Summit’s AI-optimized hardware also gives researchers an incredible platform for analyzing massive datasets and creating intelligent software to accelerate the pace of discovery,” said Jeff Nichols, ORNL associate laboratory director for computing and computational sciences.
To keep the servers cool, the Summit needs a network of pipes circulating 4,000 gallons of water through the system every minute. Further, the nodes in the supercomputer are connected using 185 miles of optical fiber cable.
Summit will provide eight times more processing power compared to Oak Ridge’s existing Titan supercomputer, and 60% more than the previous most powerful supercomputer in the world built by China.
IBM spent $200 million to build the supercomputer, which occupies area equivalent to two tennis courts. It is expected to become fully operational next year.