Supercomputers axe at the apex of the computer range. They are the fastest and the most expensive machines, and are considered a national resource. Although initially used for weapons design, they are also used for commercial purposes, like designing automobiles that will offer better protection to passengers in case of accidents. They are required (and can be afforded) only by a few organizations. There are less than 500 conventional supercomputers in the world.

SupercomputerOne of the ways in which supercomputers are built is by interconnecting hundreds of microprocessors (the tiny chips which perform all the calculations in your PC), and making them function in parallel. These computers are capable of performing billions of calculations per second.

Some of the areas in which supercomputers are being used are weather forecasting, biomedical research, and aircraft design.

Predicting the weather involves analyzing thousands of variables gathered by satellites, aircraft and other meteorological stations on the ground. This analysis has to be done in a very short time. There is no point in producing a cyclone warning after the cyclone has hit. A supercomputer is the answer to this problem.

In the medical field, supercomputers are used to study the structure of viruses, such as those causing AIDS.

Designing an aircraft involves simulating and analyzing the airflow around the aircraft. This again requires a supercomputer.

Examples of supercomputers are: Paragon from Intel Corp. USA, Supercomputers Systems Division from nCube USA, 2S from nCube, Cray models from Cray Research, and Param from C-DAC India.

Paragon from Intel Corp.

Paragon from Intel Corp.