The first exascale computer has officially arrived.
The world’s fastest supercomputer made more than a quintillion calculations per second, entering the realm of exascale computing. That’s according to a ranking of the world’s fastest supercomputers called TOP500announced May 30. The computer, known as Frontier, is the first exascale computer to make the biennial list.
Exascale computing is expected to enable new advances in a variety of scientific fields that rely on very complex calculations. The exascale milestone “represents an unprecedented ability for researchers around the world to use the computer to ask their specific scientific questions,” says Frontier project manager Justin Whitt of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
Oak Ridge’s Frontier clocked in at roughly 1.1 exaflops, or 1.1 quintillion operations per second. Frontier beat the previous record holder, a supercomputer called Fugaku at the RIKEN Center for Computational Science in Kobe, Japan, which achieved more than 0.4 exaflops.
Weather tentative reports have suggested that some Chinese supercomputers are already achieving exascale performance, so far not reported in the TOP500 ranking.
After about three years of development, Frontier will be ready for scientists to start using it in late 2022. With its new exascale capability, researchers aim to simulate how stars explode, calculate the properties of subatomic particles, investigate new sources such as nuclear fusion and harnessing artificial intelligence to improve disease diagnosis and prevention, among many other research topics.