Design of World’s Fastest Supercomputers Completed

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. join forces / dʒɔɪn ˈfɔr sɪz / (idiom) – to collaborate or work together

    Different institutions around the world joined forces to create the world’s largest spacecraft.

  2. algorithm / ˈæl gəˌrɪð əm / (n) – a set of rules or instructions to solve a problem or complete a process

    The mobile game uses algorithm to predict the player’s choices.

  3. exceptional / ɪkˈsɛp ʃə nl / (adj) – extraordinarily excellent or superior

    The panel highly praised the exceptional findings of the research.

  4. astronomical / ˌæs trəˈnɒm ɪ kəl / (adj) – relating to heavenly bodies like the stars, planets, comets, and galaxies

    I became interested in outer space after our professor discussed the different astronomical objects in class earlier.

  5. cutting-edge / ˈkʌt ɪŋ ɛdʒ / (adj) – being in the lead or at the advanced stage

    The company is known for using cutting-edge machinery in its factories.


Read the text below.

Scientists and engineers have joined forces and completed the design of one of the two paired supercomputers in the world called the Science Data Processor (SDP).

The group, led by experts from the University of Cambridge and composed of members from 11 different countries, worked for five years to produce the algorithms, hardware, and software of the first SDP.

Once completed, the first supercomputer will be placed in Perth, Western Australia, while the second will be found in Cape Town, South Africa.

The supercomputers are designed to process data that will be generated by the world’s biggest radio telescope network, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). The SKA, which is set to undergo construction in 2020, aims to provide comprehensive information about the universe. To do this, the SKA will gather huge amounts of astronomical data.

According to SKA scientist Rosie Bolton, the SDP supercomputers will analyze and convert the data from the SKA into exceptional pictures of the sky and other heavenly objects. After processing by the SDP, data from the telescopes will be sent to different parts of the world where scientists can access them.

Together, the SDP supercomputers will be able to make around 250 quadrillion computations per second. The supercomputers will be 25% faster than IBM’s Summit, which is currently the world’s fastest supercomputer.

SDP Project Manager Maurizio Miccolis said that the new software and hardware developments required to build the supercomputers could also be useful in other fields. The SDP’s fast-computing power may help in facilitating research in various fields and disciplines that involve cutting-edge simulations, such as in weather forecasting and medical research.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think it is important to produce detailed astronomical images? Why or why not?
• How else can the SDP supercomputers contribute to other fields, industries, or disciplines?

Discussion B

• Why do you think researchers continue to develop new ways to examine outer space?
• What other discoveries would you like scientists to make during their observation of outer space? Explain.