World’s Fastest Supercomputer Coming to Argonne

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The Argonne National Laboratory recently announced plans to build Aurora – what will be the world’s fastest supercomputer.

“Part of our mission is to deploy some of the largest supercomputers in the world in the support of open science,” said Michael Papka, division director for the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility. “Aurora is the next evolution in our supercomputer line. It will be a system that’s capable of producing a billion-billion calculations per second.”

To put that number into context, it would be like adding up the computing power of between 10 million and 50 million desktop computers to work simultaneously on a problem.

A Variety of Uses

Aurora will join two other supercomputers in the Argonne facility: Mira, built in 2012, and Theta, built in 2017.

Those supercomputers have been put to work across a wide breadth of scientific fields – from cancer research to mapping at-risk regions along the San Andreas Fault.

“Supercomputers are very good at doing things we can’t do in the laboratory. We can’t do the Big Bang in the laboratory. We can simulate a lot of drugs in a supercomputer before we even have to have a trial,” said Papka. “So it gives us a workplace that is very flexible and allows us to explore before we go into a lab.”

The name Aurora was chosen in honor of aurora borealis, the northern lights. Argonne expects the machine to be complete in 2021.

Unmatched Speed

It will be significantly faster than the current record holder, a supercomputer in Tennessee.

“The fastest machine in the world is at our sister facility at Oak Ridge National Lab,” said Papka. “It’s a machine by the name of Summit and [Aurora will] be roughly five times faster than Summit.”

Solving science’s problems, one quintillion calculations at a time.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.