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What is a supercomputer?

So what makes a computer super? Supercomputers are super fast and great for complex simulations, script analysis resource exploration, weather forecasting and all kinds of amazing stuff.

 

The Libratus, the first AI poker playing technology runs on Bridge supercomputers. So next time you plan to play domino qiu qiu, Libratus can actually defeat you and even the best in the field. All these because the AI runs on a supercomputer.

Supercomputing background

According to the authoritative source on absolutely everything, the first computer to earn the super prefix was designed by Seymour Cray and released in 1964. It was 10x faster than all other computers at the time. CDC, the company at which Cray worked before he started his own sold a hundred of them at 8M dollars each.

Early supercomputers, for about 30 years ago relied on designs with just a few powerful specialized processing cores. But to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for more power, the approach has shifted starting in the 90s towards many off-the-shelf processing cores with modern supercomputers containing even hundreds of thousands processing cores. Some of them traditional CPUs and some of them are GPUs which can be very effective for certain workloads.

Linus questioned CPUs and GPUs in these things? Yes, but on a much larger scale. The Titan supercomputer has over 18000 and 16 core Opteron processors and over 18000 Tesla K GPUs

How do they power and cool supercomputers and can it run crisis?

Power and cooling are handled by the system designer on a case by case basis but the but with the main theme of with as little waste as possible because a supercomputer can consume as much power as thousands of individual homes and cost millions of dollars a year to operate.

  • Titan, for example, uses 480-volt electrical power to allow thinner gauge cables saving about a million dollars in copper during construction.
  • The IBM Aquasar system recycles the water cooling fluid that’s used to cool the processors to heat buildings
  • Intel showed off an inert fluid submerging concept earlier this year that looks bananas.

Most supercomputers run Linux based systems that are heavily customized to best leverage the architecture of their own exact hardware design and to keep intersystem communication as fast as possible for optimal efficiency.

This is what allows these extravagant designs to work so cohesively to complete a single task and unlock new computing paradigms that were impossible or at least impractical with previous hardware.

Learn more about supercomputers. Watch the video below.

Supercomputers as Fast As Possible

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Categories: Computer