IBM Systems

Reaching the Summit: The World's Smartest Supercomputer

June 8, 2018
Dr. John E. Kelly, III

Today is a major milestone for humanity, and a proud day for IBM. 

With the U.S. government’s unveiling of “Summit” — the world’s most powerful and smartest artificial intelligence (AI) supercomputer — a major computing milestone has been reached. This is the result of years of dedication and innovation by IBMers around the world.

Summit is a game changer.
It is capable of performing 200 quadrillion calculations per second — or 200 petaflops — making it the fastest in the world.

But this system has never been just about speed.
Summit is also optimized for AI in a data-intense world. We designed a whole new heterogeneous architecture that integrates the robust data analysis of powerful IBM Power CPUs with the deep learning capabilities of GPUs. The result is unparalleled performance on critical new applications.

So, what can we do with that kind of power?
This project has always been about pushing the boundaries of innovation and technology to solve what was previously unsolvable.  For instance, with this system we can make connections and predictions that will help us advance cancer research, understand genetic factors that contribute to opioid addiction, simulate atomic interactions to develop stronger, more energy efficient materials, and better understand supernovas to explore the origins of the universe.

This is IBM at its best.
With these supercomputers, we bring together our most advanced technologies, architectures and thinking in one place in a very focused way. For IBM, when we take on these big bets (as we did in 2014 with this contract for the U.S. Department of Energy), we know it’s an opportunity to leapfrog ahead.

This is not the first time we have moved the whole technology world forward in supercomputing.
From Deep Blue to Blue Gene, IBM supercomputers pioneered massively parallel processing and broke the petaflop barrier that led to breakthroughs in everything from weather prediction to oil exploration. It’s exciting to consider what our latest supercomputer — one that combines high-performance computing and AI — might deliver in the form of answers to the world’s most difficult questions.

And for the first time, we are making the same architecture that powers Summit available in commercial form. Clients are already using the same hybrid architecture in our business product line with the IBM Power Systems AC922 system, and the family of new IBM POWER9-based servers. The result: business computing that can help every industry advance their products and services, from banking, to healthcare, to retail, to transportation.

Technology, and the tools we build with it, have always had the power to change the future.

Today’s introduction of Summit, demonstrates yet again, that IBM is helping to lead the way.

For images of Summit, please visit the IBM Image Gallery.