Frontier is the first computer to cross the exascale threshold. A power that puts the United States back at the forefront of the race for supremacy in complex operations.
It is unclear whether a useful quantum computer will ever become a reality. In the meantime, there is no choice but to push the boundaries of traditional calculators further. Given the investment required and the strategic benefits promised, this plant is a matter for the state. Since 2017, China and then Japan have relegated the world’s leading economic power, the United States, to a subordinate position. They obviously weren’t going to stop there.
10 to 18 operations per second!
Rather than wade through a few million calculations, they decided to take a big leap forward. And to cross a limit that only a few years ago seemed hypothetical: the exascale bar, or 10 to 18 operations per second. A completely abstract measure formulated in this way, but which can be translated into a more meaningful equivalence: if all the inhabitants of the Earth performed the calculation simultaneously and together, it would take them four years to achieve the result that the most powerful computer in the world will get the terrestrial world in a second.
Frontier will launch in a few weeks
The supercomputer called Frontier built by Hewlett Packard with AMD chips belongs to the US Department of Energy. Operational activity was announced six months ago and will begin operations in a few weeks at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. That’s the amount of time it took to test the gigantic architecture and make sure that not a single bug challenged the entire system.
Effective in reducing heat consumption
The task was made all the more difficult by the fact that Frontier had to respect environmental specifications by limiting heat consumption. Here too, its performance is impressive, with the Frontier achieving more than double the energy efficiency of the previous industry leader (52.23 gigaflops per watt compared to the MN-3’s 21.1 per watt).
But a new frontier is already on the horizon (2030, they say…): zettaflop, 1,000 billion billion operations per second. China, which has decided to withdraw from the ranking of the world’s most powerful computers (and would also secretly cross the exascale bar), intends to be the first to do so.