As a data centre owner and technical enthusiast, I keep a close eye on supercomputer developments and I was very interested to learn that the world’s fastest supercomputer will be built in the US by 2021 (according to an announcement by the US Department of Energy).
AMD (one of the world’s largest chip manufacturers and a major rival to Intel) has partnered with Cray to build ‘Frontier’, a supercomputer capable of a staggering 1.5 exaflops (or a billion billion) calculations per second. That’s up to 50 times faster than today’s top supercomputers!
Frontier is being developed as part of the US Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project.
What is Frontier set to be used for?
Frontier is set to be used for a range of tasks, providing new capabilities for machine learning and data analytics from applications ranging from manufacturing to human health.
Frontier is also set to perform advanced calculations in areas such as nuclear and climate research and will also accelerate innovation in artificial intelligence, providing American researchers with access to world-class data and computing resources.
What scale is this sort of supercomputer?
To give an idea of the scale of this sort of machine, AMD themselves have announced that Frontier will have as much processing power as the next 160 fastest supercomputers combined.
Frontier will also be able to handle an astonishing amount of data, with a bandwidth 24,000,000 times greater than the average home internet connection, capable of processing 100,000 HD movies in a second.
Does this make the United States of America the world’s greatest computing power?
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the US is the world’s greatest computing power. In fact, China is expected to have its own exascale supercomputer up and running one year ahead of the US in 2020. China and the US dominate when it comes to the world’s fastest supercomputers, but more recently the US took the top spot for the fastest supercomputer in 2018.
It is certainly an exciting time for technology and innovation, the next two years is set to see the introduction of China’s own exascale computer as well as America’s Frontier.
What is the role of data centres in the development of supercomputers?
The new breed of supercomputers typically consist of very large clusters of servers which now tend to be housed in (predominantly) private data centres but there is no reason why you couldn’t set up a small supercomputer cluster in any data centre. And it makes perfect sense to do so, as you get all the same benefits as any other customer in terms of security, resiliency and environment.
I am really looking forward to seeing how the new breed of supercomputers will be able to help solve some pressing global issues, particularly around climate modelling and applications in medical research.