October 18th is ‘Excascale day’, a day in which we come together to celebrate all the milestones that have already been achieved, and all the milestones we will ultimately meet with the help of Supercomputers, in fields such as scientific research, medicine, materials science, energy and beyond. It’s a day to celebrate advancing technology and all the curious minds that ensure our technology is moving ever forward, in the search for answers.
Answers to new vaccine challenges, answers to climate change, answers to space exploration and beyond. We are living in the ‘Exascale era’ thanks to supercomputing and the people and organisations changing the world for the better. Technology will help us solve critical, global problems that have to date gone unsolved.
So, what is Exascale? Exascale computing refers to computing systems capable of calculating at least 1018 floating point operations per second. That’s the same as performing a quintillion calculations every second. This is what a quintillion looks like:
Yes, that’s a hell of a lot of zero’s…and sometimes the more zeros we add, the less meaning a number can hold for us. So to give some perspective, you’d need every single person on Earth (that’s over 7.5 billion, or 7,500,000,000 people), performing calculations 24 hours a day for over four years to do what an Exascale supercomputer can do in 1 second. To put it another way, taking computational power out of it and simply focusing on the number, a quintillion seconds is equivalent to 31 billion years……let that sink in for a minute. ?
Why are we celebrating this? Today, scientific research is powered by these supercomputers, and when science discovers and innovates in less time, we realise and benefit from the outcomes sooner. Meaning, we will discover new vaccines in less time, more people will survive cancer, global populations will deplete fewer natural resources, we will be able to better predict and prepare for earthquakes and discover new, more efficient energy sources etc. In short, supercomputing is having and will continue to have a profound impact on improving our quality of life.
High Performance Computing (HPC) has been a shining beacon in the global effort for vaccine discovery and medical research – most recently in the case of COVID-19. We have already seen the HPC community come together to donate over 2.4 ExaFLOPS of compute power through the folding@home initiative, and thanks to technological advances over the last 40 years, which brings us closer and closer to Exascale, we are now in the position to discover new compounds, elements and molecules that will ultimately help us to quench COVID-19.
So join us in celebrating “Exascale Day” on October 18th, along with founders HPE Cray, to help raise awareness of supercomputing and broader HPC communities and the role they play in helping to improve our everyday lives. To those curious minds who ask “what if, why not, and what’s next”? – we celebrate you!