NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – If you’re wondering where supercomputers intersect with your life look no further than the latest weather forecast. The very first supercomputer ever built — in 1976 — did weather forecasting.
“It has completely revolutionized what we can do with our weather prediction capabilities,” explained NOAA Computer Scientist Mark Govett.
The technology is a revolution in constant upgrade, with the computers getting about three times faster every two years.
While supercomputers are all over the world now, they started in America. There’s even a supercomputer in outer space – aboard the International Space Station.
The U.S. Department of Energy is home to the most powerful supercomputer in the world. “For the last several years the ranking of number one supercomputer in the world has been with the Chinese and we are happy to bring it back to the United States,” said DOE Project Director Buddy Bland.
Built by IBM the supercomputer “Summit” is used for energy research and resides in the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. It does 700,000 trillion calculations a second, which is the current world record.
It turns out supercomputers have at least one thing in common with your computer. “We buy the state of the art supercomputer and we only keep it four years. It’s essentially obsolete in four years,” explained Ralph McEldowney, chairman of the International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis (SC).
For the 30th anniversary of the supercomputer conference in Dallas earlier this month the SC built something special. “This year we built the most powerful, record-breaking network that we’ve ever built. It’s four terabits per second,” McEldowney said.
The computer is fast enough to download the entire Netflix movies library in 45 seconds. And as a gift to Dallas from the supercomputing world it stayed behind, now the permeant network for the Kay Bailey Conference Center.