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“Hello, Nurion!” a supercomputer that can change the world

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Scientific Common Sense

“Hello, Nurion!” a supercomputer that can change the world

Korea’s national Supercomputer-5 Nurion was put into operation at the National Institute of Supercomputing and Networking (NISN) of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI) on November 7, 2018. Nurion is composed of 128 gigantic computer systems with a height of 2 meters and a width of 1.2 meters working in parallel. It was named the world’s 13th fastest supercomputer in the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC). So far, Tachyon, the country’s national Supercomputer-4, has played an important role since 2008. With the help of its outstanding performance, more than 10,000 researchers and over 500 companies published more than 1,000 SCI papers. Nurion’s performance, however, is improved about 70 times so that it can cope with the enormous amount of data just for an hour that it would take the world population 420 years to calculate even if they worked on it all day.

Supercomputers evolved from calculating machines into pioneers in science and technology

A supercomputer designed to perform massive and rapid computations at high speed was invented primarily for the purpose of calculation. The performance of a supercomputer is thus measured in “flops,” which represent the number of operations carried out in a second. Currently, IBM’s Summit, which is renowned as the world’s most powerful supercomputer, boasts a remarkable performance of 143.5 petaflops.* The world’s first supercomputer was very different from today’s one, however. The CDC 6600, which was invented in the United States in 1964, had a performance of 1Mflops, but it was just similar to that of today’s home computers.

IBM’s Summit, the world’s most powerful supercomputer. @insidehpc

But in the 1980s, many computer manufacturers in the world including American and Japanese computer titans began to build supercomputers in earnest to lead science and technology. In Korea, the System Engineering Research Institute (SERI), affiliated to the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), introduced the Cray 2S, capable of 2 gigaflops, in 1988. It enabled Korea to make huge progress in various fields such as weather forecasting, 3D mapping of the Korean Peninsula, designing domestically manufactured cars and aircraft parts, and safety analysis of nuclear power plants.

Supercomputers, the key to the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The performance of supercomputers improves at an average of more than tenfold every four years. Supercomputers are considered increasingly more important and the need for them is growing as key elements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of things (IoT), and big data have rapidly advanced. A supercomputer is perceived as a yardstick of a country’s level of science and technology because it can greatly reduce the cost and time for scientific, technological research and enable the exploration of fields of the unknown such as cosmology and genetics.

Early supercomputers were used in various, mostly scientific, fields such as military, biology, physics, chemistry and mathematics, which generally require large-scale parallel data processing. Recently, however, they are utilized in a wide range of industries, allowing them to design and simulate digitized virtual products and test them, thereby saving more time and money and improving the completeness of the products.

Nurion a game changer in science and technology

Currently Korea has a total of six supercomputers ? Nurion, the Korea Meteorological Administration’s Nuri and Miri, and three owned by private companies. The government plans to develop a supercomputer at the national level in the second project of high-performance computing (HPC) by 2022, and the Korea Meteorological Administration plans to introduce Supercomputer-5 by spending 60 billion won by 2020. Nurion is expected to be applied in research on big data analysis, artificial intelligence and machine learning. It will also help to conduct research, especially on the origins of the cosmos, prediction of natural disasters, treatment of incurable diseases and nano devices, which scientists couldn’t study with Supercomputer-4.

The national Supercomputer-5 Nurion, which was put into operation in November 2018. @KISTIand

Supercomputers play a role in creating new values in science and securing future competitiveness. This is why Nurion’s brilliant performance is expected.