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Daily Authority: ⚡ Massive new supercomputer

A massive new supercomputer is bigger than the next seven largest combined

Published onMay 30, 2022

🦅 Good morning! It’s Memorial Day, so hopefully you’re sleeping in, taking it easy, and reminiscing about the Indy 500. Or, you know, whatever!

Supercomputer stakes

Frontier supercomputer
Protocol visit - Jeff Nichols, Associate Lab Director for Computing & Computational Sciences, hosted a tour of OLCF and the Frontier supercomputer for Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann, Tennessee 3rd District, November 22, 2021.

No company worth their salt would announce anything major today, so we have a chance to take a breath and look at: the Top500 supercomputer rankings.

And it’s USA, USA, USA again, baby: “US retakes first place from Japan on Top500 supercomputer ranking”.

What’s new:

  • A new system from Frontier has broken the exaflop barrier, reaching 1.102 exaflop/s, according to the Linpack benchmark, which has been the standard ranking test since the mid-1990s.
  • Quote: “Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in the US. Based on the latest HPE Cray EX235a architecture and equipped with AMD EPYC 64C 2GHz processors, the system has 8,730,112 total cores, a power efficiency rating of 52.23 gigaflops/watt, and relies on gigabit ethernet for data transfer.”
  • “Frontier is not only the most powerful supercomputer to ever exist — it’s also the first true exascale machine.”
  • The new Frontier consists of 74 cabinets, each weighing in at 8,000 pounds, and is 100% liquid-cooled using warm (85°) water, with 6000 gallons moving through per minute.
  • It’s also the most efficient supercomputer, too.
  • Right now it’s in the lab for testing and integration setups, and will remain there but operated by the US Air Force and Department of Energy.
  • Third on the list is a new entrant, too: Finland added HPE Cray EX system EuroHPC, measured at 151.9 petaflops. It is “pooling European resources to develop top-of-the-range Exascale supercomputers for processing big data.

How big?

  • 1.102 exaflops per second is one quintillion floating-point operations per second. It’s 1,000 PFLOPS.
  • Those kinds of numbers make no real sense. Once we go on beyond a few billion and trillion and quintillion, our brains are broken.
  • But this new Frontier system is more powerful than the following seven Top500 systems combined.
  • That said, an Intel system being worked on for Argonne National Laboratory, called Aurora, might double this performance at something like two exaflops/s.
  • It’s all just very much a lot. But zettascale will be next, one day — place your bets.

What for?

  • In a press release, it was said the new supercomputer will see applications ranging from nuclear research, to materials research for energy storage in electric vehicles, to climate simulations with resolved clouds and rain,
  • Even Covid: long Covid will be studied, which may be heartening for some.


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🍎 More insight into how Apple will push the Pro version of the iPhone 14: iOS 16 builds in future support for an always-on lock screen, though to be a Pro/Pro Max only feature (MacRumors).

🥽 The winds are whispering that Apple’s WWDC will start talking about its AR headset: realityOS mentions are getting more and more obvious, including the “realityOS” trademark owned by a company that doesn’t really exist, filed by an Apple patent guy, for “wearable computer hardware,” being filed globally on June 8, 2022. Not sure we expect a full launch of a headset, but some indications, something to get developers working on ideas and apps for the headset? (Twitter). Also: an M2 MacBook Air at WWDC?

📉 China smartphone demand weakens amid Covid resurgence: sales plummeted 30%, year-on-year. Ouch. (WSJ, $).

⚡ For $500, you can buy the Third Sister’s 6.5-foot double-bladed lightsaber(The Verge).

🤔 The mystery of China’s sudden warnings about US hackers(Ars Technica).

🎤 What is 32-bit float audio, and should you record in it? (Wired).

🚕 inDriver: The world’s second-most frequently downloaded ride-hailing app in 2021—2022. It’s from Siberia, and the key is you can haggle the suggested price, and settle it with individual drivers (Rest of World).

🧠 Your brain operates at the edge of chaos: Why that’s actually a good thing(CNET).

📡 SpaceX CEO Elon Musk reveals next-generation Starlink satellite details: 5-6x bigger sats, and “almost an order of magnitude more capable” (Teslerati).

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🤔 “What are we living in the golden age of?” (r/askreddit).

Monday Meme

swedish flag
Tristan Rayner / Android Authority

Okay, one of the wilder things going on around the non-TikTok internet is: Swedish people not feeding other people’s kids. And it’s partially true but possibly not as cursed as it sounds.

A guide on where to start:

  • The saga emerged from a post on Reddit describing weird things you had to do at other people’s houses, with this entry saying: “I remember going to my Swedish friend’s house. And while we were playing in his room, his mom yelled that dinner was ready. And check this. He told me to WAIT in his room while they ate.”
  • Cue reactions like this on Twitter.
  • And reactions to the reactions.
  • And at least one counterpoint that doesn’t make Swedes seem as completely inhospitable, just …oddly practical?

Have a great start to your week!

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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