You might have heard about many powerful supercomputers. As of 2019, the fastest supercomputer in the world is Summit. It’s located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US.
In the coming future, we are going to see a new kind of supercomputer that won’t just be bigger than Summit in terms of size; it’ll also span across different continents across the world — one unit in Perth, Australia and another one in Cape Town, South Africa.
Known as the Science Data Processor (SDP), it will be around 25% faster than Summit. For reference, Summit delivers around 200 PFLOPS, while SDP would be able to crunch around 250 PFLOPS in total through its two supercomputing units.
The purpose of this powerful behemoth is to serve as the brain of the SKA Telescope. The astronomical signal data collected by the telescope is first fed to the Central Signal Processor (CSP) for correlation and beamforming. For further processing, the data will be transferred to the SDP.
“SDP is where data becomes information. This is where we start making sense of the data and produce detailed astronomical images of the sky,” said Rosie Bolton who’s Data Centre Scientist for the SKA Organization.
Now, because of the distance, a lot of data transfer will be involved. It’s estimated that around 600 petabytes of data will be transferred in just one year of usage. For reference, this much data is enough to fill around 1 million average laptops.
Led by the University of Cambridge, UK, it took around 5 years to complete the design process for the project. It invited the scientific minds from around 40 institutions spread across 11 countries.
Also, it isn’t just the Summit that’s a competitor to SDP. We have another supercomputer called Frontier which is expected to arrive in 2021. Again developed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, it will be able to crunch around 1.5 exaFlops. This will be around 50 times faster than current supercomputers.