Summit, the second most powerful publicly ranked supercomputer in the world, now has a virtual tour. The tour, implemented by 3D platform Matterport, allows users to virtually “walk” around the massive supercomputer and its host facility: Building 5600 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee.
Despite being recently dethroned by RIKEN’s record-breaking Fugaku system on the most recent Top500 list, Summit’s computing power (148.6 Linpack petaflops) still places it as the runner-up – and as the most powerful supercomputer in the United States. This power is delivered by 4,662 IBM AC922 servers equipped with IBM Power9 CPUs and Nvidia Volta GPUs, and in recent months, the system has been crunching crucial simulations aimed at finding pathways for destabilizing SARS-CoV-2.
Summit is the third major supercomputer to play host to a virtual tour in recent months, following in the footsteps of Hawk at the High-Performance Computing Center of the University of Stuttgart (HLRS) in June and MareNostrum at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) in July. Some supercomputer centers – like BSC – offer physical tours, but due to COVID-19, many of these tours have been canceled or are subject to increased restrictions and scrutiny. Summit, on the other hand, has never been regularly accessible to members of the public, making this tour an even rarer treat.
So far, all three tours have been hosted through Matterport. In the virtual tour, users can navigate by clicking on floors or walls (similarly to Google Street View navigation), zooming through hallways or around computer cabinets. Along the way, they can interact with various information points offering tidbits about the technology or history of a given point. In the Summit tour, for instance, users can learn about the transformers used for the warm-water energy plant, zoom in on Oak Ridge’s high-performance file system, learn about ORNL’s Top500 wins while looking at their certificates and much more. Users looking for even more immersion can use built-in VR capability to experience the tour in a web-capable VR headset, while users looking for a slightly less interactive experience can instead choose to experience the entire tour from a bird’s-eye “Floor Plan” view or a 3D “Dollhouse” view.
ORNL has also, over the years, operated a number of other systems, beginning with the Phoenix system in 2004, and continuing through to Jaguar (2005), Titan (2012) and Summit (2018), with plans for the exascale system Frontier already in the works. Pieces of these systems can be seen on the virtual tour, along with annotations explaining the history behind them.
To experience the virtual tour for yourself, click here.