A supercomputer is a very powerful computer. Thus, it is capable of doing a vast number of computations per second. Supercomputers are extremely quick because they consist of a large number of processing units. Included among these are central processing units, or CPUs. They may also incorporate GPUs, or graphics processing units. These processors collaborate to answer problems far quicker than a standard home computer.

“In a typical home computer, you may have one or two CPUs,” adds Justin Whitt. “Typically, you have one GPU.” Whitt is a computational scientist at Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Frontier is the world’s fastest supercomputer. It resides in Oak Ridge. There, tens of thousands of processors are housed in refrigerator-sized cabinets. Whitt said, “They occupy roughly the size of a basketball court.” He is the project director at Frontier. Whitt states that Frontier weights almost as much as two Boeing 747s. And this gear is capable of performing more than one billion billion billion computations per second.

Supercomputers such as Frontier lack displays. Whitt explains that the machine’s huge computational capacity is accessed remotely by users. They interact with the supercomputer via the display on their laptops.

Other world-class supercomputers are also housed in U.S. national laboratories. Others are headquartered in Japan, China, and Europe at research facilities. Multiple personal computers can even be linked to create “virtual” supercomputers. One example is Folding@home. This large computer network executes protein models. These models aid in the study of illnesses by scientists.

Supercomputers are frequently utilized to solve scientific challenges. Their immense computer capacity enables them to model extremely complicated systems. This data crunching can be utilized to generate novel medications. Or it may be used to develop new materials for better batteries or structures. These high-speed devices are also employed to investigate quantum physics, climate change, and other phenomena.

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Perhaps you have never seen a supercomputer in person. However, you may have accessed this technology remotely. Some of these devices run programs with extremely advanced artificial intelligence. These include the artificial intelligence systems underpinning virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa, as well as self-driving automobiles. This is one manner in which supercomputers are utilized in everyday life, according to Whitt. Supercomputers execute models of complicated interactions, such as those in quantum physics, that standard computers cannot manage.

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