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ORNL once again home to world’s fastest supercomputer

(DOE press release) Friday, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) unveiled Summit as the world’s most powerful and smartest scientific supercomputer. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry attended the debut to meet with the ORNL team and see first-hand this monumental supercomputer.

With a peak performance of 200,000 trillion calculations per second—or 200 petaflops, Summit will be eight times more powerful than America’s current top-ranked system, Titan, which is also housed at ORNL. For certain scientific applications, Summit will also be capable of more than three billion-billion mixed precision calculations per second. Summit will provide unprecedented computing power for research in energy, advanced materials, and artificial intelligence (AI), among other domains. Summit will enable scientific discoveries that were previously impractical or impossible.

“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,” said Secretary Perry. “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.”

Summit’s computing capacity is so powerful that it has the ability to compute 30 years’ worth of data saved on a desktop computer in just one hour. These capabilities mark a huge increase in computing efficiency that will revolutionize the future of American science. ORNL researchers have also figured out how to harness the power and intelligence of Summit’s state-of-art architecture to successfully run the world’s first exascale scientific calculation, or exaops, as DOE’s fleet of proposed exascale computing systems come online in the next five years.

“From its genesis 75 years ago, ORNL has a history and culture of solving large and difficult problems with national scope and impact,” said ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia. “ORNL scientists were among the scientific teams that achieved the first gigaflops calculations in 1988, the first teraflops calculations in 1998, the first petaflops calculations in 2008, and now the first exaops calculations in 2018. The pioneering research of ORNL scientists and engineers has played a pivotal role in our nation’s history and continues to shape our future. We look forward to welcoming the scientific user community to Summit as we pursue another 75 years of leadership in science.”

In addition to scientific modeling and simulation, Summit offers unparalleled opportunities for the integration of AI and scientific discovery, enabling researchers to apply techniques like machine learning and deep learning to problems in human health, high-energy physics, materials discovery and other areas. These opportunities that Summit will bring align with the White House Artificial Intelligence for America initiative announced last month.

Summit will be open to select projects this year while ORNL and IBM work through the acceptance process for the machine. In 2019, 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.


U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory that it has built the world’s most powerful supercomputer, known as “Summit,” and has taken the next step toward successfully building the next generation of “exascale” supercomputers by 2021 means “Oak Ridge again is number one in the world in supercomputing.”

“Scientists around the world have been working to develop supercomputers for years – but scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory just built the fastest and most powerful one,” Alexander said. “Today’s announcement by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which comes on the 75th anniversary of the city of Oak Ridge, that it will again house the most powerful and smartest supercomputer in the world, Summit, is further proof that the area’s scientific brainpower, energy research and technological capabilities are some of the best in the world. I’m proud of this area and what we have been able to accomplish, and I thank Energy Secretary Perry for coming to Oak Ridge today to celebrate this historic moment.”


Alexander continued: “Science, research and innovation is what made America first, and I recommend that President Trump add supercomputing to his ‘America First’ agenda. The Senate Appropriations Committee I serve on approved a bill last month that included the fourth consecutive year of record funding for the Office of Science, which is the most important Department of Energy program that supports work at our 17 national laboratories, including the Oak Ridge National Laboratory – and $677 million to establish U.S. leadership in exascale supercomputing. Imagine a computer about 1 trillion times faster than your home computer – used to help find cures and treatments for diseases; protect against cyberattacks; more accurately predict the weather; and help federal agencies eliminate waste and fraud.

“President Trump has signed the last two appropriations bills that provided record funding for supercomputing, and I hope he will take some credit for making sure America has the most competitive supercomputers in the world and that he will continue to support funding for supercomputing so we can stay ahead of China.”

Today, the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) announced the public debut of Summit as the most powerful and smartest supercomputer in the world.  Supercomputers can be used to solve problems in virtually every area of scientific research, and having the fastest supercomputer in the world will allow scientists at Oak Ridge to solve bigger problems and simulate more complicated things.  Summit will also attract the best researchers in the world to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry was in Oak Ridge for the announcement, along with Ginni Rometty the President and CEO of IBM.

In 2004 Alexander supported the establishment of the Department of Energy’s first Leadership Computing Facility, with the mission of reasserting U.S. leadership in supercomputing following the announcement of Japan’s powerful Earth Simulator system.  Supercomputing has evolved dramatically over the past 14 years, thanks to consistent federal research funding.  The Summit supercomputer is more than thirty thousand times (31,250) more powerful than the Phoenix supercomputer that was first deployed at ORNL in 2004.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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