Top Five Notable Supercomputers in the World Today

These supercomputers keep nuclear weapon stockpiles safe

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The recent blast in Tianjin, China knocked out the supercomputer located there. This recent event has sparked renewed curiosity about supercomputers and their various uses. Let us take a look at five of most notable supercomputers today.

1. Tianhe-1A

This is the supercomputer that was manually shut down after the blast. In November 2010, the Tianhe-1A marked the entry of China as a global leader in supercomputers. It can achieve performance of 2.57 petaflops/s on the Linpack benchmark and was designed by the National University of Defense Technology. It uses a hybrid design of 14,336 Intel Xeon processors and 7,168 NVIDIA Tesla GPUs as accelerators. It is primarily used for petroleum exploration and simulations for large aircraft.

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2. Sequoia

The Sequoia was number one in June 2012 and is located at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. It can achieve 16.32 petaflops/s of performance on the Linpack benchmark. It is primarily water-cooled and is made up of 96 racks. It has 1.6 million cores and 98,304 computer nodes. It also has 1.6 petabytes of memory. It is used by the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Advanced Simulation and Computing program. As such, it is the guardian of the US nuclear arms stockpile.

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3. Titan

November 2012 marked the Titan’s domination of the world’s supercomputers. It has 552,960 processors and boasts a Linpack performance of 17.6 petaflops/s. It runs on a Cray XK7 system which uses a combination of CPUs and GPUs. It has 18,688 nodes, each with an NVIDIA Tesla K20 GPU together with a 16-core AMD Opteron 6274 CPU. Combined, they provide a peak of more than 27 petaflops. The Titan has 700 terabytes of memory. It is used for simulations of magnetic properties, neutron transport of a nuclear reactor, and long-term climate change.

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4. Shaheen II

This supercomputer is revolutionary as it marks the official entry of the Middle East in the global top 10. It achieves 5.536 petaflop/s of performance on the Linpack benchmark. It has a theoretical peak of 7,235.17 TFlop/s and runs on the Cray XC40 system. It has 196,608 cores and 790 terabytes of memory. It is located at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. The Shaheen II is used for a variety of purposes such as oceanography, seismic modeling, oil reservoir modeling, as well as research in algorithms, programming models, and software for next generation supercomputers.

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5. Tianhe-2

The current number one in the world. It was developed by the National University of Defense Technology and boasts 33.86 petaflops/s on the Linpack benchmark. It has 16,000 computer nodes and each node has two Intel Ivy Bridge Xeon processors and three Xeon Phi chips. It has 3,120,000 cores. Each node also has 88 gig of memory. Total CPU memory plus coprocessor memory is 1,375 TiB or about 1.34 PiB. It is used for a simulation and government security applications.

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