Updated April 15, 2023
Introduction to Supercomputer
The following article provides an outline for Supercomputer Types. A supercomputer is a type of computer used for performing some high-level functions compared to a general-purpose computer. Supercomputers have some tracking in builds and operations, which will be performed simultaneously to get better performance, especially in terms of scientific and floating-point computations. USA, China, Japan and other countries are in a race to create the most powerful and high-speed processing within the Supercomputers. Supercomputers comprise of many FLOPS; nearly quadrillion flops called petaFLOPS which makes use of Linux based operating systems to carry out most of its functioning.
Different Supercomputer Types
Basically, there are two types of supercomputers existing and evolving day by day, which are as follows:
- General Purpose Supercomputers
- Special Purpose Supercomputers
1. General-Purpose Supercomputers
Further General Purpose supercomputers can be classified as:
- Vector Processing Supercomputers
- Tightly Connected Cluster Computers
- Commodity Computers
a. Vector Processing Supercomputers
- Vector processing supercomputers are a type of supercomputer used for an array or vector processing that acts as a CPU that can perform some mathematical operations on a set of data elements quickly, making the entire supercomputer faster from an accessibility point of view. This processor, as dependent on array and vectors, is completely opposite in behavior to Scalar processing supercomputers. Scalar computers are the type of computers that can perform any action and can work only on anyone element at a time. Earlier in the 1980s and 90’s scalar processor used to be supercomputers of its time but now its only demands for some vector processing related CPU. Basically, the CPU which takes in the instruction contains an instruction set that is performed on any single-dimensional array and operates on single data items.
- Vector processors also use certain instructions, which are in the form of multiple data sets, and such instruction sets are called SIMD instructions, which are frequently used by most vector processing supercomputers. Examples of Vector processing supercomputers are SSE and Intels x86’s MMX. However, the price to performance ratio for the conventional microprocessors led to less usage for such supercomputers may be around the 1990s. Therefore, many of the CPU designs also included instructions comprised of multiple data sets, also known as MIMD and a Very long instruction word known as VLIW. An example of the supercomputer that used such type of combination is Fujitsu FR-V.
b. Tightly Connected Cluster Computers
- Tightly connected cluster computers are the type of supercomputers that use connected computers clustered together to perform the task as a single unit. These cluster computers can be director based clusters, massively parallel clusters, multi-node clusters and two-node clusters. The most trending and popular cluster node includes cluster nodes having Linux OS and free software for its parallelism implementation. Open SSI and Grid Systems are also types of clusters providing single-system functionalities for images. There exist Director based clusters and parallel clusters, which behaves almost the same but with very less changes and improvisations between them like they improve the performance and fault tolerance, whereas parallel clusters for supercomputers have a huge number of processors working to solve a set of parallel instructions and computations.
- ILLIAC IV came out to be the first parallel computers with 64 processors and containing more than 200 MFLOPS. The main concept of computer clusters came into the picture when many of the microprocessors, high-speed network and high performance distributed computing exist. Clusters are generally used for improvisation and performance purpose of computers which are most costly than an individual computer but has a significant importance when it comes to fault tolerance as one system if goes down then other systems present in the cluster can prevent the unusual happening thus saving the work from a complete breakdown. Disaster recovery and business nodes which can reduce the redundancy expect cluster supercomputers because of the aid is provided at the time of failure. It is also useful for error handling as the clusters help resolve many of the error loops within the system or the program. Some of the examples also include IBM’s sequoia.
c. Commodity Computers
- Commodity computers are also the type of supercomputers used by people, mostly used by local area network connection among standard connections possessing high bandwidth with lower latency. In addition, they are used for interconnection between supercomputers to establish successful communication between the computers. They are also known as commodity cluster computing, which involves many pre-existing computing devices that can be used for parallel computing, thus lowering the useful computational cost.
- Commodity computing is performed at the cost minimization process of superminicomputers for manipulation. Vendors’ products used for commodity computers computing use standardization, which helps promote the cost and less differentiation among other vendors, lowering the cost and improving overall efficiency. IBM PC, released in 1981, displaced and acquired Apple, which depicts the perfect example of commodity computing, thus inventing VisiCalc application for other manipulation and working.
2. Special Purpose Computers
Special purpose computers, on the other hand, have differences when compared to a general-purpose supercomputer, which is as follows:
- As its name suggests, special purpose computers are built with the purpose of achieving a particular scope or goal.
- The specificity of the special purpose computers is its use with an application-specific integrated circuit that intern offers better performance.
- All the game-based software or applications like Hydra Deep, blue used for playing games like chess, designing molecular strands and structures, use special-purpose supercomputers for various activities and operations.
Conclusion – Supercomputer Types
Supercomputers have some of the advantages and disadvantages associated with them, which are used in many of the ways. Developers try to adopt these supercomputers when they have a specific purpose or in general also. They have evolved nicely till now and are getting enhanced day by day. Efforts are put on the improvisation and efficiency increase.
This is a guide to Supercomputer Types. Here we discuss the introduction and different supercomputer types for better understanding. You may also have a look at the following articles to learn more –