Visualization of the race to build the world’s fastest supercomputers Infographic news

Among the 10 fastest supercomputers in the world, five are located in the United States, two in China and one each in Japan, Germany and Italy.

They are the most powerful machines on Earth, used in everything from researching the best treatments for coronavirus to uncovering the origins of the universe.

Supercomputers capable of performing quadrillions (the number represented as one followed by 15 zeros) of calculations per second are central to the global technology and information race – a race that is particularly tough between China and the United States.

How is computer performance measured?

Inside every cell phone, laptop, and desktop computer is a central processing unit, or CPU, often referred to as the brain of a computer.

While a typical computer may have one CPU with one to 16 cores – individual processing units – a supercomputer may contain thousands or even millions of cores, each of which allows them to perform highly specialized computer operations.

The speed of a supercomputer is determined by the number of arithmetic calculations it can perform in a second – known as FLOPs (floating-point operations per second).

Advances in computing power have meant that speed is now measured in teraFLOPs (trillions) and petaFLOPs (quadrillions) of operations per second. To put it in context, an iPhone 11 is at least six times faster than the fastest supercomputer in the world in 1993.

INTERACTIVE - How to measure computer performance_(Al Jazeera)

The world’s most powerful supercomputers

According to Top 500, which ranks computers around the world, from November 2021, the Fugaku supercomputer is located at the RIKEN Center for Computational Science in Kobe, Japan, the world’s fastest supercomputer.

The $ 1 billion power plant has 7,630,848 cores, consumes 29,899 kilowatts of power and has reached a maximum performance of 442,010 teraFLOPs.

Fugaku has at least three times the processing power of the world’s second-fastest computer known as Summit – an IBM-built system at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee, USA, which measured 148,600 TFLOPs.

Among the 10 fastest supercomputers in the world, five are located in the United States, two in China and one each in Japan, Germany and Italy.

INTERACTIVE - The world's most powerful supercomputers(Al Jazeera)

The race to build the world’s fastest supercomputers (1993-2021)

Since 1993, the computing power of supercomputers has increased from 124 GFLOPs to 442,010 TFLOPs – an increase of 3.5 million times.

For most of the 1990s and 2000s, the United States and Japan stood head-to-head in claiming the title of the world’s fastest supercomputer. But in 2010, China took the number one slot away from Japan and the United States for the first time with the introduction of the Tianhe-1A, a 2,566 TFLOP system built with Intel processors.

The main uses of supercomputers

Supercomputers are excellent at tackling complex problems in a variety of areas.

In total computing power in TFLOPs, the world’s supercomputers are used mainly in scientific research (1,533,466 TFLOPs), industrial applications (762,172 TFLOPs) and academia (376,594 TFLOPs).

INTERACTIVE - The main uses of supercomputers(Al Jazeera)

What are the major technology companies?

The supercomputer market is expected to grow from $ 37.8 billion. in 2020 to $ 49.4 billion. in 2025, according to the market research firm Technavio.

The world’s largest manufacturer of supercomputers is Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). The Houston, Texas-based multinational company has at least 84 functioning supercomputers with a total output of 564,245 TFLOPs. As of 2021, 149 of the world’s top 500 most powerful supercomputers were based in the United States.

The world’s second largest supercomputer manufacturer is Japanese Fujitsu with a total production of 548,646 from its 14 supercomputers.

In third place comes Lenovo. The Chinese technology company has a total production of 459,463 from its 180 supercomputers. As of 2021, 173 of the 500 most powerful supercomputers were based in China.

INTERACTIVE - The main manufacturers of supercomputers(Al Jazeera)

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