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New Breed of Supercomputer Aims for the Two Quintillion Mark

There is a new type of supercomputer under construction known as an exascale supercomputer. Exascale refers to a supercomputer that can perform two quintillion operations in a second. This drastically compares with a phone which does 17 trillion operations and the human brain which does 228 trillion operations in a second. These computers can help rearrange human life.

One such new supercomputer has been built inside a data center in Aurora, Illinois, near Chicago. The computer, also called Aurora, is located in the Energy Department’s Argonne National Laboratory. Built by Intel and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Aurora is the size of two tennis courts and weighs 600 tons. High-powered machines like Aurora will take months to be fully operational because technicians are always on the lookout for errors, improvements, and changes. Although this process will take a long time, Aurora should be fully operating in 2024.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Frontier was the first working exascale computer and got the title of the world’s most powerful computer. Aurora is not fully operational, tests have shown it is the second-most powerful. Other supercomputers are being built around the world. For example, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is building a $600 million exascale computer named El Capitan, which potentially could be more powerful than Aurora. Another exascale supercomputer called Dojo is being built by Tesla, which spent more than $1 billion. The United Kingdom and other places are trying to create their exclusive supercomputers.

Exascale computers are used for research. These computers will research cancer, nuclear fusion, vaccines, climate change, encryption, cosmology, and other sciences. With these supercomputers, scientists could find answers that are not available yet. Also, these supercomputers are designed to help improve lives.

Even though these computers are useful and important to the future, they are also a big responsibility. However, computers with this much power can be dangerous in the wrong hands because they can endanger lives if misused. Although these computers can be dangerous, they are also very useful, when researching any major topic. Supercomputers come with pros and cons but they assist in finding answers to improve life.

[Source: The Wall Street Journal]

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