AsianScientist (Jan. 3, 2017) – The ongoing quest by scientists to develop better and faster supercomputers could be described as the human brain’s attempt at creating its equal. Today, supercomputers are already helping researchers gain insight into the complicated workings of our world and ourselves. Check out these ten features that put the “super” in supercomputer, and decide for yourself if the human brain has succeeded in rendering itself obsolete.
1. They’re super fast
Supercomputers can handle much more information at once than the average desktop. Consider a plane-load of incoming tourists at an airport customs checkpoint. Only one counter is open, so only one passport is cleared at a time. This is serial processing, which takes place in normal computers.
A supercomputer, by contrast, is akin to having thousands of open counters at the customs checkpoint, allowing passengers to be split among the counters and cleared more rapidly. This is parallel processing, which puts the ‘super’ in supercomputing.
A desktop computer has a serial processing power of approximately 40,000,000,000 FLOPS (floating point operations per second—a standardized unit of measurement for processing power). The parallel processing power of the world’s fastest supercomputer, China’s Sunway TaihuLight, is 2.5 million times greater, at nearly 100 petaFLOPS. That’s a string of fifteen zeroes after the number 100!