NVIDIA Will Power the World's Most Powerful AI Supercomputer, Leonardo

The supercomputer arms race is on, and NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) is leaving the competition in the dust. Of the world's 500 most powerful supercomputers, NVIDIA graphics processing units (GPUs) or networking equipment (by way of its Mellanox acquisition) can be found in 333 of them.

The title of most powerful is currently claimed by Japan's Fugaku, built with Fujitsu (OTC: FJTSY) CPUs, but it is set to be surpassed by other systems in 2021. Eventually, however, all of them will be dethroned by Italy's NVIDIA GPU-powered Leonardo once it is built.

Someone holding a tablet. A brain made of electrical connections hovers above the screen.

Image source: Getty Images.

Pulling away from the pack

In an announcement today, NVIDIA says Leonardo will house over 14,000 of its data center GPUs, all stitched together using Mellanox networking hardware. In terms of capabilities for a supercomputer (that is, a really powerful data center), Leonardo will reportedly be able to handle a max of 10 exaflops of performance for high-performance computing tasks like AI. For reference, Fugaku delivers about 2 exaflops in comparable performance. One exaflop is equal to 1,000 petaflops and represents one quintillion floating-point operations per second. Suffice to say this will be a powerful computing system.

Other supercomputers were homing in on the one-exaflop benchmark before NVIDIA's announcement. The U.S. Department of Energy's (DoE) Aurora, built with Intel's (NASDAQ: INTC) hardware, will max out at one exaflop. And the DoE's Frontier, using AMD (NASDAQ: AMD) chips, will be able to handle 1.5 exaflops.

Both are set to begin operating next year. But Leonardo will be a monumental leap as data centers become a basic computing unit of the future. Italy's CINECA -- a tech consortium serving universities and other researchers -- is building Leonardo, along with three other NVIDIA-based supercomputers in the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, and Slovenia (with four more systems planned in Bulgaria, Finland, Portugal and Spain).

If the claimed computing power can be delivered, Leonardo will illustrate the power of NVIDIA's GPU chips, which are quickly becoming a standard in high-performance systems needed for AI applications. Because they can compute massive amounts of data in shorter periods of time, the GPUs -- long a staple of high-end video game graphics -- are well equipped to train and then deploy large AI algorithms and software. Leonardo will be used for medical research, space exploration, and weather forecasting.

Find out why NVIDIA is one of the 10 best stocks to buy now

Motley Fool co-founders Tom and David Gardner have spent more than a decade beating the market. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

Tom and David just revealed their ten top stock picks for investors to buy right now. NVIDIA is on the list -- but there are nine others you may be overlooking.

Click here to get access to the full list!

*Stock Advisor returns as of September 24, 2020

Nicholas Rossolillo owns shares of NVIDIA. His clients may own shares of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends NVIDIA. The Motley Fool recommends Intel. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

In This Story


Latest Markets Videos

    The Motley Fool

    Founded in 1993 in Alexandria, VA., by brothers David and Tom Gardner, The Motley Fool is a multimedia financial-services company dedicated to building the world's greatest investment community. Reaching millions of people each month through its website, books, newspaper column, radio show, television appearances, and subscription newsletter services, The Motley Fool champions shareholder values and advocates tirelessly for the individual investor. The company's name was taken from Shakespeare, whose wise fools both instructed and amused, and could speak the truth to the king -- without getting their heads lopped off.

    Learn More