There are different types of computers. This includes mini-computers, supercomputers, microcomputers, and mainframe computers. Computers with superpowers are called supercomputers. Countries like China and the United States worked hard to develop the first supercomputer with speed in exaFLOP. India has also designed its supercomputer.
Supercomputers have super/high performance. They are mostly used in areas which require high computational power. Supercomputers are essential in scientific computing, a field which deals with higher arithmetic calculations.
Supercomputers consist of I/O systems, memory, and processors. They have more than one CPU (Central Processing Unit) which are interconnected to each other.
The term supercomputer came into existence in the early 1960s. The first two supercomputers were designed during this time. The first supercomputer was built by UNIVAC for the US Navy Research Center. It was called the LARC- Livermore Atomic Research Computer. The other supercomputer was the IBM 7030 which was developed for the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
A team led by Tom Kilburn created the third supercomputer called Atlas. The concept of time-sharing was incorporated in the computer for executing more than one program at a time.
The introduction of CDC 6600 by Seymour Cray marked the transition of transistors from germanium to silicon in 1964. It resolved the problem of overheating and also became the fastest supercomputer.
Cray-1 was discovered by Cray in 1976. It was considered the most successful supercomputer discovered until then. Cray-2 was developed in 1985. It had eight high speed processing units.
Currently Japan’s Fugaku is considered the world’s fastest supercomputer.
Characteristics of Supercomputers
- High storage capacity
- Their speed is measured in FLOPS.
- Linux is the most common operating system used in a supercomputer.
- A supercomputer uses traditional programming languages like Fortran, C, and C++.
- They suffer from the problem of overheating.
- Multiple CPUs.
- In a supercomputer, multiple programs can be run at the same time.
Types of Supercomputers
Supercomputers are broadly categorized into two types.
General-purpose Supercomputers: The general-purpose supercomputers are categorized into three categories. They are namely vector processing machines, tightly connected cluster computers, and commodity computers.
Special-purpose Supercomputers: They are designed to perform a particular or special task. IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer had won the chess match against the famous chess player of that time.
Supercomputer in India
During the 1980s, India made attempts to purchase supercomputers for various activities including academics and weather forecasting . But we failed to do so and decided to promote the development of supercomputers in India. Today, 3 out of the top 500 supercomputers in the world are built in India.
PARAM Siddhi-AI: It is the fastest supercomputer in India developed by C-DAC. PARAM Siddhi-AI holds 89th rank in global ranking list.
Pratyush: Pratyush supercomputer holds 107th rank in the global ranking list of supercomputers. It was built by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology.
Mihir: Mihir provides high computing performance. It is ranked 187 among the top 500 supercomputers in the world. Mihir is owned by the National Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting.
Supercomputers Vs Normal computers
Normal computers are general-purpose machines used for performing arithmetic and logical operations. Supercomputers are specialized computers designed to perform high-level computations.
Unlike personal/normal computers, supercomputers can perform millions of operations in a very short period of time.
The performance of supercomputers is measured in FLOPS. Meanwhile, the performance of normal computers is measured in MIPS (Million Instruction per Second).
Supercomputers are really expensive when compared to normal computers.Hence, they are beyond the reach of common people.
Supercomputers are used for various purposes including national security, weather forecasting and big data analysis. Normal computers are used in education, ticket booking, banking, etc.
Usage of Supercomputers
Supercomputers are used for performing high-level computations.
Petroleum Industry: Supercomputers are used for oil and gas exploration. They help in finding the exact location for establishing gas and oil reserves. They also help in the interpretation of seismic data.
Weather Forecasting: High-power computing is essential for weather forecasting. These days, we get exact weather and climate reports only due to supercomputers.
Artificial Intelligence: They play a key role in the development of artificial intelligence.
Monitoring Covid Spread: For example, the IBM Summit played a key role in monitoring the spread of novel coronavirus across the globe.
Cryptography: Supercomputers are used for encryption and decryption of secret codes known as cryptography. It is used for cryptocurrency mining as well.
Advantages and Disadvantages
The following are the advantages of supercomputers:
- They possess high speed. Supercomputers are way faster than normal computers.
- We can decrypt any type of password using supercomputers.
- Supercomputers are used for performing high computational tasks, they produce great results.
- Supercomputers are very expensive
- They require an area of at least 1000 square feet. Due to their huge size, supercomputers need more space.
- High power consumption is a highlight of supercomputers. They consume higher electricity than other computers.
Developing countries in the world are trying their best to develop high-performance supercomputers. Supercomputers help in saving lives by predicting upcoming disasters. They play a significant role in ensuring the safety of the public. In short, supercomputers are pivotal for the development of countries.