supercomputers are doing a quintillion calculations a second how much of an improvement is this

Supercomputers are now doing quintillion calculations a second. This is a big improvement over time and is only going to continue.

Supercomputers Are Getting REALLY Fast

Supercomputers are getting really fast. Not quite as fast as what you might see in the show Star Trek, but they are getting really fast nonetheless.

The Frontier supercomputers, which is at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, was one of the latest supercomputers to break the exascale threshold, which means it is doing a quintillion calculations per second. That's really fast.

A human brain can perform about one simple mathematical operation per second, which means this supercomputer can do one quintillion calculations in the time your heart beats once. For reference, here is where quintillion fits:

  • Million
  • Billion
  • Trillion
  • Quadrillion
  • Quintillion

Quintillion is at a level that humans can't really comprehend. It's too much. Think of it like money. If you have a million dollars, that's a lot. If you have a billion, it's such a large pile that you wouldn't know what to do with it. Now take that and exponentially increase it 3 more times. It's absurdly high.

Operations per second can be measured over time, starting with 1956, using this graphic below. It shows the effect of Moore's Law, which is a law that computer power will increase at a consistent rate over time. Many have wondered if this would stop due to technological limits, but so far, it hasn't. Transistor counts in computers appear to be doubling about every 2 years without letting up.

What the Frontier Supercomputer Has

The Frontier supercomputer has nearly 10,000 CPUs - the central processing unit that performs instructions given to it. It has almost 38,000 GPUs, which are graphics cars that generally are used for gaming. They are also good at processing information in parallel and can do bitcoin mining much more efficiently than a CPU.

The Frontier supercomputer utilities both the CPU and GPU to do work simultaneously. The GPU will do tasks that are repetitive and algebraic math in parallel. The CPU can then do direct tasks much faster and more efficiently. It's a good combination.

There are 9,472 different nodes in this supercomputer, with each being its own version of a computer. They are all connected together as a hive, working together.

What is the advantage of this computer? It will make everything that requires large amounts of processing better, faster, and easier. It can help predict weather better or run physics calculations. Not only that, but it could analyze genetic and viral information much faster. It will save time and allow technology and science to advance quicker.

What do you think of the Frontier Supercomputer - is it going to help technology and science advance quicker than ever before?