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ORNL computer named world's fastest and most powerful

It's official: Oak Ridge has brought the title of "most powerful computer" back to the United States for the first time in six years.

OAK RIDGE, TN — The Summit supercomputer is a lot of things, but quiet isn't one of them.

The whirring from the world's most powerful computer is so loud that visitors have to wear earplugs.

But noise is not the reason Summit is generating buzz in the supercomputing world.

The Top 500 List has just named Summit the world's fastest and smartest computer.

"It's been six years since the US was the number one super computer in the list, so it's very exciting," said Veronica Melesse Vergara who works on the computer.

So just how fast is fast...and how smart is smart?

Comparing your laptop at home to this mammoth machine is a little complicated, but the gist is this:

One "node" (the computing part of the computer) on Summit is 400 times more powerful than a standard laptop.

And that's just in one "node." Summit has 4,608, taking up about two tennis courts worth of space.

"The larger the problem, obviously the more complex, the larger the computer you need to do that," said Don Maxwell who helped put the computer together.

The solutions Summit finds can have real world impacts. For example, Summit's slower sibling Titan ran a simulation that helped design the fins on the back of eighteen-wheelers.

"Making the aerodynamics more efficient for the trucks to be able to get better gas mileage," said Maxwell.

So many scientists from around the world want to use Summit and Titan that two of every three requests get denied, even though the machine runs 24/7.

"The best thing that you can possibly hope is that you're working on a system like this," said Melesse Vergara.

The scientists at Oak Ridge are already designing their next supercomputer. It will be called Frontier and will be five times more powerful than Summit.

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