OPINION: Will supercomputers change the world?

By Zeenat Vallie Time of article published Aug 24, 2017

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JOHANNESBURG - A supercomputer is a computer that has the ability to complete more calculations per second than a standard computer. 

The first supercomputer to be introduced dates back between 1969 to 1975 with the Control Data Corp's CDC 7600. The CDC 7600 ran at 36 36 megahertz whereas an iPhone 7 runs at 2.33 gigahertz. 

By comparison, the iPhone 7 runs nearly 100 times as fast as the CDC 7600. However, supercomputers have advanced since the 1900's. Today, supercomputers are extraordinarily powerful and are regarded as soon changing the world we live in. For example, the supercomputer is known to advance biological modelling, make predictions about global warming and creating virtual universes by solving intricate scientific problems with mathematics. 

These advanced computers can be found around the globe, yet some are more powerful than others. This is displayed in the TOP500 list of most powerful supercomputers in the world which was released in Germany on 21 June 2017.The list reveals that China holds the top two supercomputer spots, Switzerland in and the United States holds spot 4 and 5 on the list. 

Lengau, which means cheetah in Setswana, is the fastest computer in Africa was unveiled last year at the Centre for High Performance Computing in Cape Town. It is accelerated by Mellanox InfiniBand solutions. 

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 “What we found to be of particular note in the TOP500 list, is that InfiniBand accelerated the majority of new systems on this supercomputer list", said managing director of African value-added distributor company of Networks Unlimited, Anton Jacobsz.  “Our partnership with Mellanox has boosted our strategy to provide the southern African market with true technology innovation. We are especially proud to offer the continent solutions from a company that develops technology that drives the world’s the world’s most powerful computer systems" said Jacobsz. 

He further highlights that InfiniBand accelerates 60% of the total high performance computing systems on the TOP500 list and 48% of the petaflop infrastructures, an increase from 45% as reported in the previous TOP500 list. 

The TOP 500 list is published twice a year and publicly available 


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