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IBM Unveils Summit, the World's Fastest Supercomputer (For Now)

Friday Jun 8th 2018 by Sean Michael Kerner

New supercomputer system is built with IBM Power9 CPUs, NVIDIA Tesla GPUs, Mellanox's InfiniBand and Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

The U.S. is once again home to the most powerful computer in the world. The U.S. Department of Energy on June 8 showed off the new IBM-built Summit supercomputer, boasting 200 petaflops of computational power.

The Summit supercomputer has a staggering 9,216 IBM Power9 CPUs as its compute base. The CPUs are IBM Summitfurther accelerated by 27,648 NVIDIA Tesla GPUs, providing even more computation power. The interconnect is also fast with 25 gigabits per second of interconnect between nodes, powered by Mellanox's Infiniband. The system is attached to 250 petabytes of storage.

The operating system running on top of all that power is Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

"The compute resources required by Summit and its workloads go well beyond how we would normally talk about flexibility and scalability for IT operations," Red Hat CTO Chris Wright wrote in a blog post.

Wright commented that supercomputing often combines commodity hardware at scale with additional, highly-specialized components, which is why Summit is using Linux.

"Red Hat Enterprise Linux forms a common bridge at the operating system to effectively link all of Summit’s resources together, making it easier for individual application stacks to take advantage of the specific resources that they need," Wright said.

Pushing the Boundaries of Innovation and Technology

John Kelly, SVP, Cognitive Solutions and IBM Research, wrote that the Summit supercomputer is all about pushing the boundaries of innovation and technology.

China has held the top spot for the world's fastest supercomputer since June 2016 with the Sunway TaihuLight. The Chinese supercomputer provides 93 petaflops of computational power. The most powerful system in the U.S until Summit had been the Cray-built Titan, which delivers 17.59 petaflops of performance.

"Today’s launch of the Summit supercomputer demonstrates the strength of American leadership in scientific innovation and technology development," Secretary of Energy Rick Perry stated. "It's going to have a profound impact in energy research, scientific discovery, economic competitiveness, and national security."

"I am truly excited by the potential of Summit, as it moves the nation one step closer to the goal of delivering an exascale supercomputing system by 2021," Perry added. "Summit will empower scientists to address a wide range of new challenges, accelerate discovery, spur innovation, and above all, benefit the American people."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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