Supercomputers are very used equipment within the field of science, especially to perform simulations and scientific investigations that require large volumes of calculation. Although this term is currently lagging behind that of high-performance computers, it is always good to know the basic concepts of the field of computing.The Origin and Use of SupercomputersAlso, read – What is Computer?
Supercomputers are special high-performance computers, considered to be the fastest computers in the world. They have computational capabilities far superior to ordinary and desktop computers. Supercomputers were introduced in the 1970s. The most relevant features of supercomputers are that they have numerous processors and large memory. They have calculation capabilities far superior to ordinary and desktop computers and are used for specific purposes.
The first use of this term refers, according to various sources, to the 20th or 60th years of the XX century. Of course, modern machines differ significantly from those that were first called “supercomputers”. The very concept of super-machines is very vague – there is no precise definition and, probably, cannot be. This is due to the continuous development of the computer industry, which occurs at an incredible rate. Those systems that are now recognized as the most powerful, in a few years, maybe “outsiders”.
Supercomputers allow you to perform many complex calculations in a short time. Their performance is measured in a unit such as flops – it shows how many floating point operations per second the system performs. For a clearer understanding of the power and performance level of a supercomputer, the following example can be cited: the Intel ASCI RED system, commissioned by the US Department of Energy, operates at a total capacity of 3200 billion operations per second.
For a person to make such calculations using a calculator, he would have to spend 100 thousand years! And for this computer “monster”- only 1 second. At the same time, it must be understood that the computer named to date is by no means the most powerful machine.
Also, read – What are the types of Computers?
How is performance measured?
The most important mean criterion is the calculation capacity, which is measured in flops. An arithmetic operation is equivalent to one flop per second (operation per second in floating point).
Contrary to what one might think, supercomputers are integrated by the same components of conventional computers. Only that its internal components, are related to each other in such a way, that you can get an extraordinary performance of each of them.
What are the supercomputers for?
Supercomputers are widely used in the field of scientific research since it is required to manipulate a huge amount of data in a very short time, so the power of data processing even comes to fall short in several fields. Among the main research areas in which supercomputers are used, we have:
- The prediction of the climate, since it uses information that comes in real time from different information centers and climate detection around the world, in search of patterns that help predict climate changes and avoid tragedies.
- The study of the universe, since being so extensive and using so many variables at once is impossible for conventional equipment.
- Simulate destructive and dangerous effects, such as nuclear tests or high-risk situations that require high work power.
Some applications of Supercomputers
Climate: The supercomputers make possible much more precise models in intensive tasks. This is how they are used to calculate global climate change and regional weather forecast, and can make forecasts more days in advance.
Medicine: The complex simulations that can be carried out by supercomputers allow reducing the need for trials. On the one hand, they make experimentation with animals less necessary and also speed up the process of developing new drugs.
Industry: With its help, in the automotive industry and in the construction of aircraft and ships, digital prototypes can be developed and presented more quickly. In this way, supercomputers can emulate, for example, the wear of components or the circumstances surrounding an accident.
Obviously, why do we need such a high-performance machine? Initially, supercomputers were specially used for military purposes: they helped in calculating the nuclear and thermonuclear weapons. In the process of rapid development of information technologies and their implementation in almost all areas of human life and society, powerful computers have been used in various fields where complex calculations are needed on a large scale.
This list includes cryptography, statistics, computational biology and chemistry, physics, Earth science (including weather forecast, the condition of large reservoirs, and prediction of climate change) and much more.
Supercomputers are used for the calculation of new strategic and tactical positions in the military industry, not just this but also to study methods that improve the efficiency of finished combat equipment and their modernization. They are also used to develop new types of weapons and protective equipment.
It was thanks to these super-intelligent systems that many scientific studies were carried out, modern diagnostics in medicine became available, and the possibility of accurate prediction of weather and natural phenomena became possible. If you look at the health sector separately, only here you can see what a tremendous influence the supercomputer has on our lives: with their help it is possible to obtain effective methods of treatment and to find the causes of many diseases.
Summing up this short excursion, we can note: supercomputers are not to disappear, on the contrary, they more and more penetrate into our life, gradually turning from the heart of a large computing center into a tool on the desktop of a designer, engineer, scientist. Towards them moves the branch of the evolution of personal computers, gradually increasing the number of cores, the amount of memory, speed.