Previous Articles

What Makes a Supercomputer Super?

by Christopher G. Willard, Ph.D.
for Intersect360 Research (originally published under the Tabor Research name)
Jun 1, 2008

as published in HPCWire

The announcement of each new TOP500 list and especially those with systems that break the triple order of magnitude barrier in flops tend to get me thinking about the meaning of the term "supercomputer." This term has been with us at least since the 1970s (if you know of any earlier use, I would greatly appreciate hearing from you.) Although it has had its ups and downs over the years, the term has shown amazing ability to capture the imagination. Yet "supercomputer" has also persistently defied precise definition (much to the mortification of the author). Following is a list of definitions for supercomputer that have been proffered over the years:

  • Any computer built by Seymour Cray. Although a long and impressive list of innovative system architectures can be added here, the Cray name has always been synonymous with supercomputer.
  • A computer used to address the most demanding problems. This definition is closest to the mark and has had the longest staying power.
  • >> More

For full access to our HPC research studies, analysis, custom research and consulting, contact us directly.

» 888-256-0124
» Subscribe to our mailing list

Sign in to view premium content
Remember me on this computer
Become a client
Get access to our full reports