John Kelly, SVP, Cognitive Solutions and IBM Research

“Supercomputing is the Formula One of computing. It’s where companies test bleeding-edge technology at an unprecedented scale.”

What is Summit?

Summit is a new kind of supercomputer, designed for data and AI. In March 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded IBM the commission to build two supercomputers.

The mission was to develop a machine 5 to 10 times faster than its predecessor, Titan. Over four years, the DOE worked with a team of IBMers to break through countless technology barriers, building a system with the brawn of 200 petaflops (200 quadrillion operations) per second, and the brains of AI and deep learning. This means Summit is more than 1 million times more powerful than the fastest laptop, allowing it to sift through thousands and thousands of variables and create models and simulations that can help researchers find answers to the world’s most complex problems. 

How is it different?

Summit and its sister machine, Sierra, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, represent a major shift from how IBM structured previous systems. IBM developed a new computing architecture that combines high-performance POWER9 CPUs with AI-optimized GPUs from our partner NVIDIA — all linked at extremely high speeds and bandwidth.

In Summit’s new architecture, computing is embedded everywhere data resides, producing incredible speed and creating a system purpose-built for AI. Another radical shift is that Summit is built with components available to any enterprise — the technology is part of IBM’s product line, available to accelerate every business.

What can it do?

What can be done with 200 petaflops? Here are three sample applications:

  • Combat cancer: Machine-learning algorithms scaled on Summit will help supply medical researchers with a comprehensive view of the U.S. cancer population at a level of detail typically obtained only for clinical trial patients.
  • Identify next-generation materials: Deep learning on Summit could help scientists identify materials for better batteries, more resilient building materials and more efficient semiconductors.
  • Accelerate understanding of disease: Greater understanding of how certain patterns give rise to clinical phenotypes — observable traits of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease and addiction — will inform the drug discovery process.


Explore IT Infrastructure for your business

In addition to supercomputers like Summit, IBM offers a range of IT systems that can propel your business forward.