Since 1993, the list of the most powerful computers in the world has been established in the Top 500 project, and in June this year its 59th edition since then was published. This list shows the most powerful supercomputers according to their performance in LINPACK benchmarkswhich show the raw computing power of computers.
This is Frontier, the most powerful computer in the world
Located at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computer Facility (OLCF) in Tennessee, United States, the computer that holds this rank of being the most powerful in the world, Frontier, created by HP, is currently in use. We are dealing with an exascale supercomputer, and it is not that it is a PC that fits into a conventional box, but rather that it occupies a whopping 680 square meters, and is made up of several server rack cabinets (a total of 74 19-inch cabinets, each one of which houses 64 servers, and each server consists of 2 nodes interconnected by HPE Slingshot 64-port switches that have 12.8 Terabit/s bandwidth).
This “beast” incorporates within it a whopping 9,472 processors AMD Epyc 7A53s “Trento”, each with 64 cores at 2 GHz (for a total of 606,208 cores) plus nothing more and nothing less than 37,888 graphics cards AMD Radeon Instinct MI250X, each with 220 cores for a total of 8,335,360 GPU cores.
Before we talked about “nodes”, which in short are the “servers”, and in total there are 9,472 since each node has a processor. For each processor, there are 4 graphics cards and 5 Terabytes of flash memory (SSD) for a total of 47,360 TB of storage, plus 128 GB of soldered RAM (this means that, in total, Frontier has 1,212,416 GB of memory RAM, or 1,184TB of RAM). In addition to that 47,360 TB of Flash storage, Frontier has an internal storage system capable of delivering a performance of 75 TB/s read, 35 TB/s write and 15,000 million IOPS, in addition to a Luster Orion file system of 700PB (picobytes).
Of course, keep an eye on the data because Frontier, in addition to being the most powerful computer in the world to date, is also the one with the highest consumption: no less than 21 MW, which is almost double the 13 MW that Summit consumed, his predecessor. In addition, you should know that its successor, called Aurora, is already under construction, which is estimated to consume around 60 MW of energy.
Ok, but what is so much power for?
Super computers have always been questioned, since they have a really high energy consumption, they have extremely high maintenance and cooling needs, and their raw power is so high that some wonder what it can be used for.
Supercomputers play a fundamental role in the field of computational science, being used to rapidly perform extremely complex calculations that have to do with all kinds of fields, such as quantum mechanics, weather forecasting, climate change research, molecular modeling for research of cures and diseases, cancer research, and of course for the necessary calculations in the aerospace field.
These machines were first introduced in the 1960s as a response to the research needs of science, and have since become a milestone in history because they greatly speed up the necessary calculations and simulations that would otherwise be required. it would have taken decades to achieve. In other words, these super computers, like Frontier, are essential for research and development, and ultimately, for science, which is what brings us the technological advances we see every year.