US Reclaims Supercomputing Crown With AMD-Powered Frontier

The supercomputer is the first to achieve exascale performance, topping 1.1 quintillion calculations per second.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
Expertise I have more than 30 years' experience in journalism in the heart of the Silicon Valley.
Steven Musil
2 min read
Frontier supercomputer

The Frontier sits atop the list of the world's fastest supercomputers.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Hewlett Packard Enterprise

The US has reclaimed the top spot on the list of the world's most powerful computers with the first supercomputer to cross the exascale performance threshold. The AMD-powered Frontier supercomputer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory topped 1.1 exaflops, or 1.1 quintillion calculations per second, on the Linmark benchmark, the lab announced Monday.

The Hewlett Packard Enterprise-built machine handily beat out the previous record holder, Fugaku, which registered a peak computational performance last year of 442 petaflops -- less than half the speed of the Frontier. The IBM-built Summit machine was the world's fastest supercomputer for two years before the Japanese-made Fugaku claimed the title in June 2020.

"Frontier is ushering in a new era of exascale computing to solve the world's biggest scientific challenges," Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thomas Zacharia said in a statement. "This milestone offers just a preview of Frontier's unmatched capability as a tool for scientific discovery."

Supercomputers, mammoth machines that can take up entire floors of buildings and consume as much power as a town, are used for tasks like simulating nuclear weapons explosions, global climate change effects and the physics of the cosmos. They also can be good at medical research like drug discovery, a key ability given the fast spread of diseases such as COVID-19.

While the US tops the list of the world's fastest supercomputers, China still dominates the list with 173 systems. The number of US systems on the list, meanwhile, dropped from 150 to 126.

Frontier also claimed the top spot on the Green500 list, which rates energy efficiency in supercomputers. Frontier's power efficiency came in at 52.23 gigaflops per watt. Unveiled in 2007, the Green500 list is published two to three times a year by Green500.org. It typically serves as a follow-up to the Top 500 list of worldwide supercomputers announced by Top500.org.