How Exascale Supercomputers Are Built with Tech

The next generation of supercomputers is being designed to reach exascale performance, and that means using the latest and greatest technology. Here’s a look at some of the tech that’s going into making these machines a reality.

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Exascale Supercomputers

The term “exascale” was first coined in 2008 by computer scientist Jack Dongarra, and it refers to the capability of a computer system to perform at or near one exaFLOPS. This is a billion billion (10^18) floating-point operations per second. In order to achieve this, Exascale computers must be able to sustain a speed of at least a petaflops, which is a million billion (10^15) operations per second.

What is an Exascale supercomputer?

An Exascale supercomputer is a computer that can perform at least one exaflop, which is one quintillion (1018) floating point operations per second. So far, no Exascale supercomputer has been built, but several are in development. In order to achieve Exascale performance, these computers will need to be significantly more powerful than any computer that currently exists.

To put this into perspective, the world’s current fastest supercomputer, Summit, can perform around 200 petaflops (200 quadrillion floating point operations per second). That’s about 1/500th of an Exaflop. An Exascale computer would need to be about 500 times more powerful than Summit.

Building an Exascale supercomputer is a massive engineering challenge. These computers will require patient and innovative thinking from the best minds in the field in order to be built. In addition to raw computing power, these computers will need to be able to manage huge amounts of data and maintain a high degree of reliability.

The widespread adoption ofExascale computing is likely to have a profound impact on science and society. These computers will enable scientists to solve problems that are currently unsolvable and open up new avenues of research. They will also allow businesses to make better decisions by processing large amounts of data more quickly. Ultimately, Exascale supercomputers have the potential to change the world as we know it.

What are the challenges of building an Exascale supercomputer?

The united states and China are currently in a two-way race to build the first exascale supercomputer. But what exactly is an exascale supercomputer, and what are the challenges of building one?

An exascale supercomputer is a machine that can perform one million trillion (10^18) operations per second. That’s a thousand times faster than the current fastest supercomputer, and a million times faster than a standard desktop computer.

The challenges of building an exascale supercomputer are numerous and varied. Firstly, there is the sheer scale of the task. To put it into perspective, the world’s current fastest supercomputer, China’s Sunway TaihuLight, contains 10 million cores and uses up to 15 megawatts of power. An exascale computer would need to be about 1000 times more powerful than that.

Secondly, there is the challenge of creating software that can take full advantage of an exascale machine. Current software is not designed to use more than a few thousand cores at once, so it would need to be completely re-written to make use of an exascale computer’s full potential.

And finally, there is the question of power consumption. An exascale computer would require hundreds of megawatts of power, which is not currently available from the national grid in most countries. This means that either a new power source would need to be found, or Exascale computers would need to be built close to power plants.

The Technology

The technology used to build exascale supercomputers is always changing and evolving. In the past, these computers were built with a variety of different technologies, including custom-built chips, special software, and custom hardware. Today, the technology used to build these computers is more standard and is constantly changing.


Exascale supercomputers are built with the most cutting-edge processors available. They are designed to handle extremely large amounts of data and perform complex calculations very quickly.

One type of processor that is often used in exascale supercomputers is the central processing unit (CPU). CPUs are made up of a number of individual cores, each of which can handle a different task simultaneously. In order to achieve exascale speeds, CPUs must be able to work together very efficiently to share data and resources.

Another type of processor that is often used in exascale supercomputers is the graphics processing unit (GPU). GPUs are designed to generate images for displays, but they can also be used for general-purpose computing. GPUs can be grouped together to form a highly parallel processing engine that is capable of handling large amounts of data very quickly.

Exascale supercomputers usually incorporate both CPU and GPU processors in order to take advantage of the strengths of each type of processor. By using both types of processors, exascale supercomputers can achieve unprecedented levels of performance.


The technology used in building exascale supercomputers is constantly evolving, and memory is no exception. In the past, supercomputers were built with a variety of different memory types, including DRAM, SRAM, and flash memory. However, the trend nowadays is to use only one type of memory, known as HBM (High-Bandwidth Memory).

HBM is a type of memory that offers high bandwidth and low latency, making it ideal for use in supercomputers. In addition, HBM is much more energy-efficient than other types of memory, which is important given the large amount of power that exascale supercomputers require.

Currently, there are two main types of HBM being used in supercomputers: HBM2 and HBM3. HBM2 is the more common type, and is used in most of the world’s top supercomputers. However, HBM3 is starting to gain traction due to its higher bandwidth and lower power consumption. It’s likely that we’ll see more and more supercomputers being built with HBM3 in the future.


Exascale systems will pose significant new challenges for system architects, with a major focus on energy efficiency. One promising area for improvement is in the area of data storage. Today, most supercomputers use spinning disk drives for long-term data storage, with solid state drives (SSDs) used for holding working data sets. Spinning disks are power hungry, and SSDs are expensive. A new generation of storage devices, based on phase change memory (PCM), may offer a more attractive option for exascale systems.

PCM is a non-volatile memory technology that can be used to store data permanently, without the need for power. PCM works by changing the phase of a material, from amorphous to crystalline, in order to store data. When heated, the material changes from crystalline to amorphous; when cooled, it changes back to crystalline. By carefully controlling the heating and cooling cycles, it is possible to store multiple bits of information in a single PCM cell.

PCM has several advantages over existing storage technologies. First, it is very fast, with read and write times of just a few nanoseconds. Second, it is very dense, meaning that a large amount of data can be stored in a small space. Finally, it is quite power efficient, requiring only a small amount of energy to operate.

The key challenge with PCM is that it is currently quite expensive, with costs running into the hundreds of dollars per gigabyte. However, researchers believe that this cost will come down over time as the technology matures and manufacturing processes improve. If PCM can be made affordable, it could be a key enabling technology for exascale supercomputing.


If you want to build an exascale supercomputer, you’re going to need a lot of horsepower. But you also need a very fast way to connect all of those processing cores together so they can work on a problem as a team. That’s where interconnects come in.

Interconnects are the high-speed networks that link together the individual components of a supercomputer. They allow data to flow quickly between the different parts of the system so that the computing power can be used as effectively as possible.

There are a variety of different technologies that can be used for interconnects, and the choice of which to use depends on a number of factors including cost, performance, and compatibility with other hardware and software. Some of the most commonly used interconnect technologies include InfiniBand, Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and PCI Express.

In order to achieve exascale performance, it is often necessary to use multiple types of interconnects in order to provide the most efficient data transfer possible. For example, PCIe is often used for connecting individual components within a node while Ethernet or InfiniBand is used for connecting nodes to each other.

Building an exascale supercomputer is an incredibly complex undertaking that requires meticulous planning and execution. But with the right team in place and the right technology, it is definitely achievable.

The Future

The exascale supercomputer is the most powerful computer that has ever been created. It is 1000 times more powerful than the top 500 supercomputers combined. This level of power is necessary to solve the world’s most pressing problems, such as climate change, energy efficiency, and disease.

What are the next steps for Exascale supercomputers?

The next steps for Exascale supercomputers are to continue to increase in size, speed, and capacity. However, there are a few key challenges that need to be addressed before Exascale supercomputers can become a reality.

One of the main challenges is power consumption. As supercomputers get larger and faster, they consume more and more power. This increase in power consumption is not sustainable in the long term.

Another challenge is the issue of data storage and data transfer. Supercomputers generate a lot of data, and this data needs to be stored somewhere. Additionally, this data needs to be transferred between different parts of the supercomputer quickly and efficiently.

A third challenge is the issue of cooling. Supercomputers generate a lot of heat, and this heat needs to be dissipated quickly and efficiently. If not, the components of the supercomputer will overheat and break down.

The final challenge is the issue of software development. Developing software that can take full advantage of an Exascale supercomputer is a daunting task. This software needs to be able to handle the large amount of data that an Exascale supercomputer can generate, as well as take advantage of the increased speed and capacity of an Exascale supercomputer.

What are the potential applications for Exascale supercomputers?

There are many potential applications for these powerful machines. One possibility is using them to create more accurate weather models. With more accurate weather models, we could better prepare for extreme weather events like hurricanes and blizzards. We could also use exascale supercomputers to create more realistic climate models. This would help us study the effects of climate change and find ways to mitigate its impact.

Another potential application for exascale supercomputers is in medical research. With their enormous processing power, these machines could help us find new cures for diseases and develop personalized treatments for patients. Exascale supercomputers could also be used to improve the efficiency of drug development and speed up the process of bringing new drugs to market.

Finally, exascale supercomputers could be used to improve the efficiency of many industries. For example, they could be used to optimize manufacturing processes, design more fuel-efficient engines, or improve the accuracy of financial predictions.

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