Supercomputers are used for highly calculation-intensive tasks such as problems involving quantum mechanical physics, weather forecasting, climate research, molecular modeling, physical simulations, cryptanalysis. Major universities, military agencies and scientific research laboratories are heavy users.
Supercomputers using custom CPUs traditionally gained their speed over conventional computers through the use of innovative designs that allow them to perform many tasks in parallel, as well as complex detail engineering. They tend to be specialized for certain types of computation, usually numerical calculations, and perform poorly at more general computing tasks. Their memory hierarchy is very carefully designed to ensure the processor is kept fed with data and instructions at all times—in fact, much of the performance difference between slower computers and supercomputers is due to the memory hierarchy.…
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