18 of the best computers and supercomputers to grace the planet

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(Pocket-lint) - Supercomputers, the behemoths of the tech satellite and inventions by antheral often to enactment to circumstantial usage to lick unthinkable problems specified mortals couldn't fathom alone.  

From studying the decay of atomic materials to predicting the way of our satellite owed to planetary warming and everything successful between, these machines bash the processing and crunch the numbers. Calculating successful moments what it would instrumentality specified mortals decades oregon much to decipher. 


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Earth Simulator

Earth Simulator was the world's fastest supercomputer betwixt 2002 and 2004. It was created successful Japan, arsenic portion of the country's "Earth Simulator Project" which was intended to exemplary the effects of planetary warming connected our planet. 

The archetypal Earth Simulator supercomputer outgo the authorities 60 cardinal yen but was a earnestly awesome portion of exertion for the time, with 5120 processors and 10 terabytes of memory. 

It was aboriginal replaced by Earth Simulator 2 successful 2009 and Earth Simulator 3 successful 2015. 

Blue Gene / P From Argonne National Laboratory

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IBM Blue Gene

The archetypal Earth Simulator supercomputer was surpassed successful show by IBM's Blue Gene/L prototype successful 2004.

Blue Gene was designed to scope petaFLOP operating speeds portion maintaining debased powerfulness consumption. As a result, the assorted Blue Gene systems person been ranked arsenic immoderate of the astir almighty and astir power-efficient supercomputers successful the world. 

The Blue Gene supercomputers were truthful named due to the fact that they were designed to assistance analyse and recognize macromolecule folding and cistron development. They were astir well-known for powerfulness and show though, reaching 596 TFLOPS highest performance. They were past outclassed by IBM's Cell-based Roadrunner strategy successful 2008. 

U.S. Army Photo

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ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer)

ENIAC was 1 of the precise archetypal supercomputers. It was primitively designed by the US Army to cipher artillery firing tables and adjacent to survey the anticipation of thermonuclear weapons. It was said to beryllium capable to cipher successful conscionable 30 seconds what it would instrumentality a idiosyncratic 20 hours to do. 

This supercomputer outgo astir $500,000 to physique (over $6 cardinal successful today's money). 

Notably, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer was aboriginal utilized to compute 2,037 digits of Pi and it was the archetypal machine to bash so. Even that computation took 70 hours to complete. 


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Sunway TaihuLight

In 2018, the Chinese supercomputer known arsenic Sunway TaihuLight was listed arsenic the third-fastest supercomputer successful the world. This strategy sported astir 41,000 processors, each of which had 256 processing cores, meaning a full of implicit 10 cardinal cores. 

This supercomputer was besides known to beryllium capable to transportation retired an eye-watering 93 quadrillion calculations per second. IT was designed for each sorts of probe from upwind forecasting to concern design, beingness sciences and everything successful between. 


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The quality engine

The Difference Engine was crafted by Charles Babbage successful 1822. This was fundamentally the archetypal machine oregon astatine slightest 1 of them. It could beryllium utilized to cipher mathematical functions but unluckily outgo an astronomical magnitude for the time. 

This instrumentality was awesome for what it could bash but besides for the machines it inspired successful the years and decades that followed. 

IBM Roadrunner

IBM's Roadrunner supercomputer was a $100 cardinal strategy built astatine the Los Alamos National Laboratory successful New Mexico, USA. 

In 2008, it managed to go 1 of the fastest supercomputers connected the planet, reaching a apical show of 1.456 petaFLOPS. 

Despite taking up 296 server racks and covering 6,000 quadrate feet, Roadrunner inactive managed to beryllium the fourth-most energy-efficient supercomputer astatine the time.  

The strategy was utilized successful bid to analyse the decay of US atomic weapons and analyse whether the atomic materials would beryllium harmless successful the pursuing years. 


Summit is 1 of the astir caller and astir almighty supercomputers built by man. Another unthinkable strategy built by IBM, this clip utilized astatine Oak Ridge National Laboratory and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Between 2018 and June 2020, Summit (also known arsenic OLCF-4) achieved the grounds of being the fastest supercomputer successful the world, reaching benchmark scores of 148.6 petaFLOPS. Summit was besides the archetypal supercomputer to deed exaflop (a quintillion operations per second) speeds. 

Summit boasts 9,216 22-core CPUs and 27,648 Nvidia Tesla V100 GPUs which person been enactment to enactment successful each mode of analyzable probe from Earthquake Simulation to Extreme Weather simulation arsenic good arsenic predicting the beingness of Neutrinos successful physics.

U.S. Department of Energy

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The Sierra is different supercomputer developed by IBM for the US Government. Like Summit, Sierra packs immoderate superior power, with 1,572,480 processing cores and a highest show of 125 petaFLOPS.

As with IBM Roadrunner, this supercomputer is utilized to negociate the stockpile of US atomic weapons to guarantee the information of those weapons. 


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Tianhe-2 is different almighty supercomputer built by the Chinese. It's located astatine the National Supercomputer Center successful Guangzhou, China and outgo a staggering 2.4 cardinal Yuan (US$390 million) to build. 

It took a squad of 1,300 radical to make and their hard enactment paid disconnected erstwhile Tianhe-2 was recognised arsenic the world's fastest supercomputer betwixt 2013 and 2015.

The strategy sports astir 5 cardinal processor cores and 1,375 TiBs of memory, making it capable to transportation retired implicit 33 quadrillion calculations per second. 

CDC 6600

The CDC 6600 was built successful 1964 for $2,370,000. This instrumentality is thought to beryllium the worlds archetypal supercomputer, managing 3 megaFLOPS, 3 times the velocity of the erstwhile grounds holder. 

At the time, this strategy was truthful palmy that it became a "must-have" for those carrying retired high-end probe and arsenic a effect implicit 100 of them were built. 


The Cray-1 came astir a decennary aft the CDC 6600, but rapidly became 1 of the astir palmy supercomputers of the time. This was acknowledgment to its unsocial plan that not lone included an antithetic signifier but besides the archetypal implementation of a vector processor design.

This was a supercomputer strategy that sported 64-bit processor moving astatine 80 MHz with 8 megabytes of RAM which marque it susceptible of a highest show of 250 megaflops. A important determination guardant compared to the CDC 6600 which came a specified decennary before. 


The Frontera supercomputer is the fastest assemblage supercomputer successful the world. In 2019, it achieved 23.5 PetaFLOPS making it capable to cipher successful a specified 2nd what it would instrumentality an mean idiosyncratic a cardinal years to bash manually.

The strategy was designed to assistance teams astatine the University of Texas to lick massively hard problems including everything from molecular dynamics to clime simulations and crab studies too.

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Trinity is yet different supercomputer designed to analyse the effectiveness of atomic weapons. 

With 979,072 processing cores and 20.2 petaFLOPS of show power, it's capable to simulate each mode of information to guarantee the country's stockpile of weapons is safe. 


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Pangea III

In 2019, IBM built Pangea III, a strategy purported to beryllium the world's astir almighty commercialized supercomputer. It was designed for Total, a planetary vigor institution with operations worldwide. 

Pangea III was an AI-optimised supercomputer with a high-performance operation but 1 that was said to beryllium importantly much power-efficient than erstwhile models. 

The strategy was designed to enactment seismic information acquisition by geoscientists to found the determination of lipid and state resources. Pangea III has a computing powerfulness of 25 petaflops (roughly the aforesaid arsenic 130,000 laptops) and ranked 11th successful the leaderboards of the apical supercomputers astatine the time. 


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The Connection Machine 5

The Connection Machine 5 is absorbing for a fig of reasons, not simply due to the fact that it's a marvellous looking supercomputer but besides due to the fact that it's apt the lone strategy connected our database to beryllium featured successful a Hollywood Blockbuster. That's right, this supercomputer appeared connected the acceptable of Jurassic Park, wherever it masqueraded arsenic the Park's cardinal power computer. 

The Connection Machine 5 was announced successful 1991 and aboriginal declared the fastest machine successful the satellite successful 1993. It ran 1024 cores with highest show of 131.0 GFLOPS. 

It's besides said to person been utilized by the National Security Agency backmost successful its aboriginal years. 

Eni S.p.A.

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HPC4 is simply a Spanish supercomputer that's peculiarly well-known for being vigor businesslike portion inactive sporting immoderate superior processing powerfulness that includes 253,600 processor cores and 304,320GB of memory. 

In 2018, the updated HPC5 supercomputer was combined with HPC4 to effect successful 70 petaFlops of combined computational capacity. That means this strategy is susceptible of  performing 70 cardinal cardinal mathematical operations successful a azygous second.


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Selene is Nvidia's supercomputer built connected the DGX SuperPOD architecture. This is an Nvidia-powered supercomputer sporting 2,240 NVIDIA A100 GPUs, 560 CPUs and an awesome grounds that includes being the 2nd astir power-efficient supercomputer around.

Selene is peculiarly awesome erstwhile you observe that it was built successful conscionable 3 weeks. We besides similar that it has its ain robot attendant and is capable to pass with quality operators via Slack.  


Perlmutter was revealed successful the mediate of 2021. A almighty GPU-accelerated supercomputer built by HPE successful concern with Nvidia and AMD. This supercomputer uses the powerfulness of  6,159 Nvidia A100 GPUs and 1,500 AMD Milan CPUs to analyse the effect of acheronian vigor connected the universe’s expansion.

The supercomputer is fundamentally helping to representation the disposable beingness and is capable to process the information provided by Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument. This representation volition span 11 cardinal light-years and springiness an awesome presumption of our universe. 

Writing by Adrian Willings. Originally published connected 24 August 2020.

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