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The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory unveiled Summit, the world’s most powerful and smartest supercomputer, in June. (ORNL/U.S. Dept. of Energy) The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory unveiled Summit, the world’s most powerful and smartest supercomputer, in June. (ORNL/U.S. Dept. of Energy)

New U.S. supercomputer is fastest on the planet

18 July 2018

The world’s most advanced supercomputer is called Summit, and it recently powered up at a federal laboratory in Tennessee.

Built by a team from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and American companies IBM and Nvidia Corporation, Summit sports eye-popping performance.

Rometty said it’s not just about power — it’s about smarts. Scientists designed Summit to be the first supercomputer to handle advanced artificial-intelligence applications. Its architecture combines raw computational power, graphics processing units, and innovations in memory and data movement. Thomas Zacharia, the director of Oak Ridge National Lab, said Summit can automate critical steps of scientific discovery.

Supercomputers and health

One of Summit’s most promising applications is cancer research. The supercomputer will analyze a massive amount of health data to tease out hidden relationships between genes, biological markers and the environment.

“We’re essentially training computers with large volumes of data to read medical documents and extract important information,” said Gina Tourassi, a cancer researcher at Oak Ridge National Lab. “Such information is used to help doctors determine the best treatment for each patient and improve population health outcomes.”

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Other researchers are using Summit to understand the traits that influence complex health challenges such as Alzheimer’s and addiction.

One thing is clear: Supercomputers have come a long way in the past few decades. Zacharia said today’s smartphones are more powerful than the supercomputers that decoded the human genome in 1995.

In this era, Summit will change people’s lives, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said at an event celebrating the new supercompute. “This is about changing the world,” he said.

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