World’s Fastest Computer Breaks Into the Exascale

Now that everyone has a smartphone in their pocket with a million times more computing power than the Apollo 11 guidance system, it’s become harder to impress with processing power. But the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has probably pulled it off. The institution this week introduced the Frontier supercomputer, which it says packs a ridiculous 1.1 exaflops of computing power, making it the first such machine to reach exascale levels of performance. The Frontier has a threshold of a quintillion calculations per second. Oak Ridge put that in perspective, saying that if each person on Earth completed one calculation per second, it would still take more than four years to accomplish what Frontier can do in one second. Besides Frontier’s impressive computing stats that include a 700-petabyte storage system, the supercomputer is just really physically intimidating as well. Each one of Frontier’s Cray EX supercomputer cabinets weighs 8,000 pounds and together includes more than 9,400 AMD-powered nodes and 90 miles of networking cables. To keep everything nice and cool, the Frontier moves 6,000 gallons of water through its system every minute by using four 350-horsepower pumps. 

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