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ORNL's Summit Supercomputer
Video courtesy of the Department of Energy

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is once again officially home to the fastest supercomputer in the world, according to the TOP500 List, a semiannual ranking of the world’s fastest computing systems.

The recently launched Summit supercomputer was announced as No. 1 today at ISC High Performance in Frankfurt, Germany. The designation recognizes the IBM-built system as the science community’s most powerful computational tool for solving problems in energy, advanced materials, artificial intelligence, and other domains.

“Summit’s ranking as the world’s fastest supercomputer demonstrates the strength of American leadership in scientific innovation and technology development. The world’s most powerful, and now fastest, computer will 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.”

The combination of cutting-edge hardware and robust data subsystems marks an evolution of the hybrid CPU–GPU architecture successfully pioneered by ORNL's Titan supercomputer and a substantial step toward the goal of delivering the first U.S. exascale supercomputer—a system capable of a billion billion double precision floating point operations per second.

“With Summit, researchers will be able to simulate and explore complex phenomena and obtain results in disciplines ranging from quantum materials and chemistry, advanced fission and fusion energy, to bioenergy and foundational biosciences, faster and in greater detail,” said ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia. “In addition to traditional modeling and simulation, Summit will also serve as an artificial intelligence and deep learning behemoth, capable of analyzing massive amounts of data and automating critical steps of the discovery process.”

The IBM Summit system reached a speed of 122.3 petaflops on the High-Performance Linpack benchmark test—the software used to evaluate and rank supercomputers on the TOP500 list. At its theoretical peak, Summit is capable of 200 petaflops, or 200,000 trillion calculations per second—about eight times more performance than its predecessor Titan.

Summit is the third ORNL system to be ranked No. 1 by TOP500, following in the footsteps of the Jaguar and Titan supercomputers. Jaguar ranked as the world’s fastest system in November 2009 and June 2010, while Titan held the title in November 2012.