A supercomputer is by definition a computer that has a higher level of performance compared to the conventional general purpose computer. But what are supercomputers used for? Supercomputers play an integral role in computational intensive tasks such as quantum mechanics or climate research. IBM which has been at the forefront of supercomputing shows the constant innovation that goes into improving supercomputers.

Currently IBM has developed six computer systems that have been ranked no.1 by as leading supercomputer installations. These computers not only deliver computational power for users but also massive financial advantages. IBM’s supercomputer Pangea II uses 10% less energy than it’s predecessor Pangea I. The minimization of energy usage allows IBM to begin developing supercomputers that can be used for commercial purposes.

A notable aspect of IBM’s supercomputers is the unique features that they include. IBM’s supercomputer ASCI White has used the company’s POWER3 processors and it’s Bluegene system uses floating point accelerators. But why do these features matter? These features represent the every changing process of supercomputing. Supercomputers are built only to be fast, but instead they’re complex machines used to do extremely difficult work. For example a program that combines supercomputers with AI and deep learning capabilities addresses the issue of how to sift through the massive volumes of data that have been produced by applications and programs.

IBM is currently trying to integrate parts of this program into their own supercomputers. IBM with Eni, an energy company, have designed an AI based platform that is able to find functions supporting Eni’s energy exploration efforts. The platform is able to use public and private data to make assessments about drilling locations and possible opportunities for gas or oil exploration.

What is the future for supercomputers? An area within supercomputers called quantum computer is emerging which is where researchers are able to experiment with quantum concepts. This area is just the beginning for supercomputers because technology is constantly being innovated and supercomputers are becoming increasingly efficient. Take IBM as an example of a company where supercomputers have evolved to be constantly at the top of the market. IBM is currently hoping to apply its supercomputers into real commercial practices such as business and computing.

-Allen Shen


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