Parallel Processing in Supercomputers
2019-09-19 | by SyntaxLogics

What is summit supercomputer? Parallel Processing in Supercomputers

China held the lead in the race for the world's fastest supercomputer for the last five years but in order to keep up with the ever increasing demand for more power the approach has shifted the United States has surged ahead (June 2018 to present) with SUMMIT.


It is most powerful supercomputer on the planet. It's a 200 million dollars supercomputer (housed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory ORNL) in partnership with IBM and Nvidia.


The performance of a supercomputer is usually measured in floating point operations per second called FLOPS instead of million instructions per second (MIPS).


The summit supercomputer can process approximately 200,000 trillion calculations per second or 122 petaflop. China's Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer had been the most powerful machine with 93 a petaflop.


Summit supercomputer will be used in the areas of researches, astrophysics, cancer treatments and systems biology. Summit has 4608 compute servers and has more than 10 petabytes of memory.


Summit Supercomputer Specifications



Rmax Rpeak 
ModelIBM Power System AC922
ProcessorPOWER9, Tesla V100
InterconnectInfiniBand EDR
SiteOak Ridge National Laboratory
Country / Year United States, 2018
Linux (RHEL)

History of Supercomputer


The history of supercomputer goes back to the early 1920s with series of computers at Control Data Center CDC. The first supercomputer was designed by Seymour Cray and released in 1964 was called the CDC 6600. It was about 10 times faster than all other computers at the time. It used a single processor to achieve three million calculations per second, well that may sound impressive but it is tens of thousands of times slower than a smartphone today.


If you have a smart phone it is more powerful than the supercomputer that they had back in nineties.


Back in 1970s supercomputers were used only a few/single processors but in late 1990s machines with hundreds of processors began to appear by the end of 20th century massively parallel supercomputers with tens of thousands processors were common.

What is Supercomputer? 

But what is a supercomputer. A supercomputer isn't just a very fast computer it works in an entirely different way normal computers work by serial processing. Serial processing is taking one value doing something to it and then taking the next value after it and doing something again it doesn't matter how much you give to the computer it's still going to do it one by one. I know processors now have multi cores and hyper-threaded but right now I’m talking about the basics here the point is that serial processing is slow not very slow but compared to a supercomputer it's slow. today's supercomputers are comprised of thousands of connected processors and their speed has grown extremely fast over the past few decades.

what makes a computer super? Its ability to solve complex algorithms, script analysis, resource exploration, quantum mechanics, weather forecasting, encryption and decryption of data etc.


Importance of SuperComputers


Supercomputers play an important role in the research growth of a country. Supercomputers servers in many fields of computational science and are used for a wide range of mathematically intensive tasks in various fields.

They are being used for exploring universe, satellites, airplane and spacecraft aerodynamics the detonation of nuclear weapons and nuclear fusion, they have been essential in the field of cryptanalysis. They are being used to help design new ways of generating different forms of energy.


Parallel Processing in Supercomputers


Supercomputers work by parallel processing which splits the problems into pieces and works on many of them at once the best example to describe this is to having many workers building something in a real time strategy game because you're having many workers working at one problem it's much more efficient and much faster.


Usually in today’s Supercomputers a large number of computers distributed across a network devote their time to solve a common problem each individual computer receives and completes many tasks and reports to a central server which integrates the results from all the computers into the overall solution.


The supercomputer can effectively split the big problem into smaller ones work on all the small problems and then put them back together again this is the parallel processing in supercomputers.



In a different methodology a large number of dedicated processors are placed close to one another this saves much time moving data around and makes it possible for the processors to work together the use of multi-core processors combined with centralization is an emerging trend.



Performance and Hardware Management.


Summit supercomputer consists of over 36,000 processors from IBM and Nvidia that can perform 200 quadrillion calculations per second in an hour,

summit covers 5,600 square feet of ground space and has nearly 200 miles of cable it uses 4,000 gallons of water per minute to stay cool and consumes enough power to run 8,000 homes and weighs nearly as much as a commercial airplane.


But why do we need such fast computers it has tangible results in terms of how it helps society at large it will translate into better appliances better security systems better delivery of power more efficient homes every aspect of life will change supercomputers are used across all sectors forecasting weather and climate trends simulating nuclear tests performing pharmaceutical research and cracking encryption keys


Summit is the first supercomputer designed for artificial intelligence applications and researchers plan to use summit for AI projects that could identify genetic predispositions to cancer or opiate addiction by surpassing China the US has escalated the technology rivalry between the two countries. There's no question race design but this is not the space race this is the race to knowledge but faster supercomputers are already on the rush Japan, European Union and China are all developing machines that they say will outperform summit.


The next big thing is Exascale computing that is computers that can perform a billion times a billion calculations per second the use of this machine is only going to be limited by the imagination or the scientists will have access to this machine.


List of Countries with Most Supercomputers.

Following is a list of countries with most Supercomputers

China 229

United States 108

Japan 31

United Kingdom 20

France 18

Germany 17

Ireland 12

Canada 8

Italy 6

Korea, South 6

Netherlands 6

Australia 5

Poland 4

Sweden 4

India      4

Russia 3

Singapore 3

Saudi Arabia 3

Spain 2

South Africa 2

Switzerland 2

Taiwan 2

Brazil 1

Finland 1

Czechia 1