What are supercomputers?

SUPERCOMPUTERS: Look back, 50 years ago a gigantic computer that used to fill a room was the tiniest computer of that era. Over time we saw machines changing. As a result, today if you construct a computer as big as a room and fill it with similar chips, you get a SUPERCOMPUTER-> a computer that is almost a million times smarter and quicker than your usual desktop PC. It has the ability to crack the world’s most compound mathematical and analytical problems.

General Vs Super

So what is it that makes supercomputers distinct from the Pcs that you’re using every day?

A computer is a general-purpose machine that solves our problems by processing the data given by us and generating an output or a result. It’s not reasonable to assume that a supercomputer is just a powerful computer or a really big one. It actually uses a completely different path to work than the normal computer.

How it works

What a supercomputer uses is called parallel processing i.e. instead of doing one thing at a time, it performs various multiple tasks at a time. Unlike this, sequential processing is done on a regular computer.

Serial loading & operation in parallel- An average computer performs 1 thing at a time. For example, you’re at a food court and you have to place orders for different dishes from different outlets. So, you go to each outlet one by one and place orders. It doesn’t matter how fast you compute from one outlet to another. The ultimate speed depends on how fast the operator at each outlet takes to process your order which is always one at a time.

A standard contemporary Supercomputer does the same job quickly by chopping the problem in many bits and working on all of the bits at the very same time. Now consider the same example above. You can ask several of your friends to help you complete the task. So each of your friends goes to a different outlet and orders the dish. Once the dishes are ready you can get together with the items and leave. The more friends and orders you have, the quicker it gets to complete a problem.

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Control Data Corporation (CDC) 6600 was the first supercomputer to be launched in 1964 and it had 1 CPU. This supercomputer was 10- folds faster than the fastest computer and cost $8 million at that time. It could reach up to a speed of 40MHz.It could perform 3 million floating-point operations per second (flops) at its peak efficiency. Seymour Cray designed it.

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Cray left CDC  in 1972 and started his company which was known as Cray Research. Nearly 4 years later, in 1976, Cray developed the 80 MHz Cray-1, which was one of history’s most triumphant supercomputers. 1985 marked the publication of The Cray-2. It had eight central processing units (CPUs), liquid refrigeration, and the supercomputer architecture drained the electronics coolant liquid fluorine. It operated at 1.9 gigaFLOPS and became the second-fastest in the world after M-13 Moscow supercomputers.

These advances in computation brought researchers on or beyond the verge of being able to perform computational simulations focused on first concept physics for the first time — not only simplistic versions. This in effect boosted opportunities in fields such as meteorology and global environment research, pharmaceutical and medical design, innovative technologies, and aerospace engineering for breakthroughs.

The biggest barrier to achieving the full capacity of supercomputers remains the immense work needed to compose programs in such a manner that as many separate processors as possible will function on various facets of an issue simultaneously. Only do that with fewer than a dozen CPUs, as is widely found in current personal computers, has withstood any easy approach, while IBM’s open-source project, sponsored by numerous academic and corporate collaborators, made strides in the 1990s and 2000s.


Supercomputers have several defining features. Unlike traditional machines, they typically have more than one Processor (central processing unit), which involves circuitry for reading software instructions and conducting correct sequence arithmetic and logic operations. The technical constraints of circuit construction necessitate the usage of many CPUs to reach large processing speeds. Electronic signals can not fly faster than light speed, and thus provides a simple speed limit for signal propagation and circuit switching.

This cap was almost exceeded due to the miniaturization of circuit parts, the drastic decrease in the length of wires linking circuit boards, And the creativity of cooling methods (e.g., of specific supercomputer systems, processor and memory circuits are submerged in a cryogenic fluid to reach the lowest temperatures under which they work more quickly). Rapid recovery of processed data and instructions is required to maintain extremely high CPU processing power. Many supercomputers, therefore, have a very wide storage space, and a very strong input/output bandwidth.

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The distinguishing characteristic of supercomputers is their usage of vector arithmetic — i.e., they may run on pairs of numbers lists rather than on pairs of numbers. For example, a modern supercomputer will average a list of hourly pay levels for a group of manufacturing employees by a list of hours performed by participants of that community to generate a number of dollars received by each worker approximately at the same period as it takes a normal computer to determine the sum received by only one worker.

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Where are they used?

Initially, supercomputers were used in national security projects for the construction of nuclear missiles and cryptography. The aerospace, chemical, and automobile sectors still hire them regularly today. In addition, supercomputers have found broad use in engineering or science research areas, As in research, for example, on the existence of subatomic particles and the origin and essence of the universe.

For weather forecasting supercomputers have been an invaluable tool: forecasts are now focused on computational models. As supercomputers ‘costs decreased their use extended to the online gaming community. In fact, a corporation with online rights in China to the electronic game World of Warcraft operated the 5th and 10th largest Chinese supercomputers in 2007, which at times had more than a million people competing together in the same gaming environment.

Supercomputers are used for extremely calculation-intensive activities such as

—>issues concerning quantum mechanical mechanics

—>weather forecasts

—>climate science (including global warming studies)

—>molecular modeling (computing chemical compound structures and properties, biological macromolecules, polymers, and crystals)

—>physical simulations

Supercomputing has played significant roles in manufacturing areas such as aerospace, aeronautics, structural and civil engineering, electrical and computer technologies, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals, as well as in scientific science such as elementary particles, chemistry, condensed matter, DNA, protein, and complex structures. Supercomputers are called the machines that provide better efficiency in order of magnitude. These are rare, costly laboratories that can only be purchased by government labs or colleges or major corporations.


Although supercomputing actually plays ever more important roles in different fields, the term “supercomputer” is not very common. It would be replaced by a “high-performance machine.” Supercomputers are, of course, high-performance machines, but the term “high-performance machine” underlines the similarity of ordinary machines.

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Simulation technology, as seen in several talks in this article, provides us the problem-solving methodology for complicated and nonlinear processes with large degrees of freedom that arise in natural science engineering, socio-economic issues, and so on. High-speed simulation technologies and high-performance computing as the foundation for science and technological advancement are important.

Top 10 supercomputers in the world

  1. Summit
  2. Sierra
  3. Sunway TaihuLight
  4. Tianhe-2A (Milky Way 2A)
  5. Frontera
  6. Piz Daint
  7. Trinity
  8. AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure (ABCI)
  9. SuperMUC-NG
  10. Lassen


Operating high-performance supercomputers have raised prices, mostly due to higher resource usage. A top 10 supercomputers needed within a range of 100 kilowatts during the mid-1990s and the top 10 supercomputers requested between 1 and 2 megawatts in 2010.

A DARPA-funded 2010 study identified power usage as the most prevalent difficulty in achieving Exascale computing. A megawatt of energy usage per annum cost around $1 million at the time In 2011, a supercomputer of 1 exaflop would have required approximately 500 megawatts, based on the Green 500 list of supercomputers ‘energy consumption between 2007 and 2011.


In this world full of high technologies, supercomputers are sitting at the top. Till now no technology has been invented who can beat these machines in power and intelligence. There is no calculation they cannot perform. There is no major field that is successful without them. Inventions require great minds and behind these machines, there are greatest of the greatest minds.

Cost is the only drawback here. They are so expensive that only the multi-billionaires or the government can afford it. Various advancements are constantly being made to make it available to the general public and it will take a lot of time. If used by the right hands in the near future, many problems such as poverty, hunger water scarcity can be eradicated. The future is Super Computers.