The US pioneered work in supercomputers decades ago, but the most powerful systems have resided in China for several years. That’s changing today with the unveiling of Summit, a new supercomputer from IBM and the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). It’s an order of magnitude more powerful than current US supercomputers and fast enough to beat every other system in the world with a theoretical peak performance of 200 petaflops per second. More than that, it has the hardware to support machine learning and artificial intelligence processing on a previously unheard of scale.
ORNL has spent the last couple years building Summit because of how ludicrously complex and powerful it is. Summit consists of 4,608 compute servers, each of which packs some serious processing power. A single server in the Summit array has two IBM Power9 CPUs with 22 processing cores. That’s over 200,000 CPU cores across all of Summit, and they’re paired with more than 10 petabytes of RAM.
Each server in Summit also contains six Nvidia Tesla V100 GPUs, which are data center chips based on the Volta architecture (i.e. you can’t pop one in your PC). That works out to 27,648 individual GPUs powering Summit. These GPUs include dedicated Tensor Core hardware for machine learning as well. According to Nvidia, the GPUs in Summit account for 95 percent of its processing capacity.
The raw processing power isn’t the only thing that makes Summit impressive. The AI-enabled hardware of Summit will allow researchers to train and operate neural networks and process massive data sets. IBM and Oak Ridge National Laboratory expect scientists to clamor for time on the new supercomputer. ORNL says Summit already has a full schedule including work on cancer research, fusion energy, and addiction treatment.
The previous top supercomputer in the US, known as Titan, is also an ORNL project. This machine features an Nvidia GPU in every node, which was unusual at the time. It has a peak performance of about 27 petaflops per second. The top supercomputer on Earth before Summit was the Chinese Sunway TaihuLight system. It has a max capacity of 125 petaflops per second. At 200 petaflops, Summit beats it by a comfortable margin.
The Department of Energy is also working on a smaller version of Summit called Sierra. This supercomputer will have “only” four V100 GPUs per node for a maximum processing capacity of around 125 petaflops. Sierra should be online at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory later this year.
IBM Plans to Reassign 31,000 Workers, Will Cut 10,000 Positions in 2018
IBM is firing over 10,000 workers and reassigning 30,000 more as part of yet another round of downsizing and reassignment.
Terrible UI Caused Hawaii’s Missile Scare
The missile scare debacle in Hawaii was driven by a terrible UI, not an errant button. The FCC has launched its own investigation.
Hearing Aids: Better, Cheaper, and More Accessible Than Ever
Nearly everyone suffers from some hearing loss as they age, but for most people it isn't bad enough to warrant the expense of seeing an audiologist. Thanks to the new Hearing Aid Act, that's changing, as companies can now sell hearing devices direct to consumers. We look at some of the most promising.
Microsoft May Be Mulling a Major Studio Acquisition, Possibly Even EA
Microsoft has a problem with console exclusives and it's thinking about picking up a studio or two to help out — including, believe it or not, EA.