Sweden’s fastest supercomputer is ready – and the next computer awaits around the corner

The National Supercomputer Center (NSC) in Linköping bought a new supercomputer for 150 million SEK, with funds from the Knut Foundation and Alice Wallenberg. “Berzelius” is named after the world famous Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius. The name also includes the letters “LiU,” the regular abbreviation for Linköping University.

Most of the time, what you should do is train the neural networks. Requires very large data sets. The self-driving car program needs to learn to recognize cars or pedestrians. It’s a learning process that needs to be updated because new situations are constantly popping up, says Niklas Anderson, NSC Technical Director.

It will be compatible with as few as 15,000 home computers

Berzelius has a performance of 300 petaflops. Flipping is a process of flowing, multiplying or adding, per second. Beta means that there are 15 zeros after the number 300. With such tremendous speed and these ridiculous numbers, one wonders how many home computers it corresponds to.

If you assume that your laptop has four cores, Berzelius would be compatible with around 15,000 home computers. But you might also say “between 10,000 and 100,000”. They are too different to really compare, says Nicklas Anderson.

At KTH in Stockholm, it was recently decided to build another fastest supercomputer, with funding of 100 million SEK. Two giant computers in Sweden in the same year. It’s a coincidence with various funders, says KTH Director Geert Svenson.

It can slow development

KTH’s “Thora Dardel” will handle fewer petaflops than “Berzelius” but has much higher accuracy.

Our focus will be on scientific computations and simulations. It could be about coronavirus genes, it could be about airflow around planes to save fuel, or the climate. Sometimes it’s easier to do the math than to do the experiments, says Gert Svenson.

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How well can supercomputers run in performance? The slowdown is now beginning to be felt, Niklas Anderson says.

Hard disk size has evolved not as fast as it was ten years ago. There are also physical limits. When the lines on the foil are only 10 atoms wide, the wires begin to move because the atoms do not remain stationary.

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