Supercomputers: Computer and Current Processing Capacity

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Supercomputer

The Columbia Supercomputer, located at the NASA Ames Research Centre.

A 1985 supercomputer Cray-2

A supercomputer is a computer that is at the frontline of current processing capacity, particularly speed of calculation.

Supercomputers are used for highly calculation-intensive tasks such as problems involving quantum physics, weather forecasting, climate research, molecular modelling (computing the structures and properties of chemical compounds, biological macromolecules, polymers, and crystals), physical simulations (such as simulation of airplanes in wind tunnels, simulation of the detonation of nuclear weapons, and research into nuclear fusion).

Current fastest supercomputer system

Tianhe-1A is ranked on the TOP500 list as the fastest supercomputer. It consists of 14,336 Intel Xeon CPUs and 7,168 Nvidia Tesla M2050 GPUs with a new interconnect fabric of Chinese origin, reportedly twice the speed of InfiniBand. Tianhe-1A spans 103 cabinets, weighs 155 tons, and consumes 4.04 megawatts of electricity.

Mainframe computer

An IBM 704 mainframe

Mainframes (often colloquially referred to as "big iron") are powerful computers used mainly by large organizations for critical applications, typically bulk data processing such as census, industry and consumer statistics, enterprise resource planning, and financial transaction processing

Differences from supercomputers

A supercomputer is a computer that is at the frontline of current processing capacity, particularly speed of calculation. Supercomputers are used for scientific and engineering problems (high-performance computing) which are limited by processing speed and memory size, while mainframes are used for problems which are limited by data movement in input/output devices, reliability, and for handling multiple business transactions concurrently

The zEnterprise 196, IBM’s latest mainframe, was unveiled today. At the London launch, Tom Rosamilia, worldwide general...
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