what is a supercomputer?

Credits: Pixabay

In 2020, on the occasion of its 80th anniversary, the CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) offered itself an overpowering gift: a supercomputer. This is the Jean Zay, a very powerful machine capable of performing more than 14 million billion operations per second. This supercomputer was designed by the famous computer manufacturer HP (Hewlett Packard). To have it, the CNRS had to spend around 25 million euros. But how does the supercomputer perform so many calculations in just a few seconds? How does it work ? We explain everything there is to know on the subject in this article.

What is a supercomputer?

In the field of computing, we always hear about supercomputers. But we don’t really know what it is or how it works. Well, it’s a kind of computer with the components, the architecture, but also the resources to achieve impressive computing power. Like Jean Zay, today’s supercomputers are equipped with ten thousand processors capable of performing billions of calculations per second. Supercomputers are designed specifically for businesses that need massive computing power. To perform the calculations, thousands of processors can work simultaneously or at the same time. Installing a supercomputer requires significant space. Indeed, it is composed of several central units equipped with processors, connectors, peripherals and an operating system. In 2022, the most powerful supercomputer in the world is Japanese. This is the Fugaku which obtained a record score of 442 Pflop/s thanks to its 7630848 cores integrated in ARM A64FX processors. With such power, it is still three times more efficient than the one in second place: the American supercomputer Summit, which embeds IBM Power 9 processors and Nvidia Tesla V100 GPUs. To see the entire ranking, just consult the news on IT Information.

What is a supercomputer used for?

Credits: Pixabay

Supercomputer or supercomputer plays an important role in the field of science. In everyday life, it won’t be of any use since you don’t need to do so much calculation. Examples of areas of science that use the supercomputer include quantum mechanics, climate change research, weather forecasting, calculation of molecular properties and structures, gas/oil exploration, the detonation of nuclear weapons, the aerodynamics of spacecraft, etc. There is also what is called a converged supercomputer that is very popular with scientists. With the computing power of the latter, researchers in the field of particle physics, nuclear physics or even astrophysics can imagine simulations on a planetary scale. In short, the supercomputer is a super computer designed specifically to achieve the highest possible level of performance in terms of calculation. Today, most developed countries are in a race to design the best supercomputer. But none has yet been able to surpass Japan, a country where IT reigns supreme.

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