The US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has officially launched the world’s most powerful supercomputer.

With a peak performance of 200 petaflops, Summit is eight times more powerful than America’s current top-ranked system, Titan, and easily outperforms China’s 93.01 petaflop Sunway TaihuLight, previously the world’s most powerful system.

The 13MW Summit features 9,216 IBM Power 9 processors and 27,648 Nvidia Volta GPUs across 4,608 servers, connected via Nvidia’s new NVLink interconnect. Nodes are connected via Mellanox dual-rail EDR InfiniBand network, delivering 200Gbps to each server.

The $200 million supercomputer is housed in a 9,250 square foot (859 sq m) room and takes some 4,000 gallons of water every minute to keep cool. It also features 185 miles of fiber optic cable.

Summit supercomputer
– Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Feel the power

“Today’s launch of the Summit supercomputer demonstrates the strength of American leadership in scientific innovation and technology development. It’s going to have a profound impact in energy research, scientific discovery, economic competitiveness, and national security,” DOE Secretary Rick Perry said at the launch ceremony.

“I am truly excited by the potential of Summit, as it moves the nation one step closer to the goal of delivering an exascale supercomputing system by 2021. Summit will empower scientists to address a wide range of new challenges, accelerate discovery, spur innovation, and above all, benefit the American people.”

Research projects the system will carry out include:

  • Cancer research: the DOE and the National Cancer Institute are working on a program called CANcer Distributed Learning Environment (CANDLE).
  • Fusion energy: Summit will model a fusion reactor and its magnetically confined plasma, in an effort to hasten commercial development.
  • Disease and addiction: researchers will use AI to identify patterns in the function and evolution of human proteins and cellular systems to help better understand Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and addiction, and inform the drug discovery process.

Summit will be open to select projects this year while ORNL and IBM work through the acceptance process. Next year, the bulk of access to the IBM system will go to research teams selected through DOE’s Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program.

China still has more supercomputers in the Top500 list than the US does. The nation, along with Japan and Europe, is racing against the US to build faster systems.