China currently leads the world in supercomputing, housing both the world's fastest and second fastest machines according to TOP500 rankings. Not wanting to be outdone, the US has been constructing what it believes will be the world's fastest supercomputer upon completion.

Summit, as it will be named, is scheduled to have between 150 and 300 petaflops of computing performance and will be unveiled at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2018. The current record holder, Sunway TaihuLight has a performance of 93 petaflops. Summit has been designed as a replacement for the previous top US supercomputer, Titan, which is capable of 17.59 petaflops.

To put those numbers in perspective, modern high-end consumer CPUs can only perform about 50-100 gigaflops and high-end GPUs can perform a few teraflops. This makes Summit thousands to millions of times more powerful than a home computer.

Summit will consist of about 4,600 nodes, each with a performance exceeding 40 TFLOPs. Individual nodes will have 512GB of DDR4 memory, an additional 1,600GB of non-volatile memory and extra HBM although the specific amount isn't specified. In total, the system will contain more than 10PB of RAM. In terms of compute, each node will have two IBM Power9 processors and six Nvidia Volta GPUs. The datasets it will need to digest are equally as massive so Summit will pack 250PB of file storage with a performance of 2.5TB/s.

The full system will consume roughly 15MW of power at peak load. This is the same as Sunway TaihuLight but will offer 2-3 times its performance.

Looking to the future, Oak Ridge also plans to develop an exascale computer by 2021 (that's one billion billion operations per second).