More than half century ago, what was considered as the smallest computer then had such a gargantuan machine that actually filled a large room – a stark contrast to the computer that we know now. In this day and age, a computer is not only compact, but also incredibly powerful. Especially when compared to its predecessor years ago. This is largely due to the fact that modern integrated circuits and transistors have been evolved to the extent that they could be the size of a human fingernail, yet still pack just as much power – if not more. With this microchip invention, no wonder computers these days can be so compact yet powerful. But have you ever thought what would happen if we, using the latest technology, built a gargantuan computer and filled it with thousand of those remarkable microchips?
Supercomputers as one of the most incredible technology
That very concept is the concept which fueled the invention of supercomputers. Yes, a supercomputer – a room sized computer with the microchips and technology that we have now are the ultimate marvels of mesmerizing computational power. Not only gigantic, these supercomputers are also more than ten thousand times faster than our average computers. Its parallel processing is known to be lightning speed as they perform the work simultaneously, and this is due to the fact that, while they are all built with similar components as those of regular computers, they are all integrated in a certain way which makes it possible for them to work simultaneously and more effectively as its processing speed hovers above quadrillions floating point operation per second (aptly abbreviated as flops – the measurement used when measuring the performance of a supercomputer).
What can we actually do with supercomputers?
Yes, supercomputer do exist and they are there to help us humans tackle not only the biggest, but also the most crucial scientific problems known to men – from neuroscience, to astrophysics. The fact that supercomputers are mainly used for scientific tasks which demand intensive research and high performance to analyze a tremendous amount of basic data leaves majority of public with little to no working knowledge on how this incredible technology actually affects their lives and just how important supercomputers are. So what benefits do the supercomputers give to public at large and why should they matter to them?
The answer is simple, while public do not have a direct access to supercomputers, the fact that supercomputers are highly regarded as the primary tool and engine used to tackle the most prevalent problems in the society should answer why they matter. Cancer research, for instance. The society may only aware of the threat of this disease, but not the effort to find cure which happens behind closed doors. The sheer volume of data that is related to cancerous diseases may have taken years to analyze with pure human effort, but thanks to supercomputers, medical researchers have the tool to analyze and understand its mechanism and patients’ genetic instability which leads to the disease itself. Other than for medical efforts, supercomputers also help with fraud protection, meteorological and pollution control and many more.