A supercomputer is a computer at the frontline of current processing capacity, particularly speed of calculation.
Supercomputers are used for highly calculation-intensive tasks such as problems including quantum physics, weather forecasting, climate research, molecular modeling (computing the structures and properties of chemical compounds, biological macromolecules, polymers, and crystals), and physical simulations (such as simulation of airplanes in wind tunnels, simulation of the detonation of nuclear weapons, and research into nuclear fusion).
Supercomputers today most often use variants of the Linux operating system
Software tools for distributed processing include standard APIs such as MPI and PVM, VTL, and open source-based software solutions such as Beowulf, WareWulf, and openMosix, which facilitate the creation of a supercomputer from a collection of ordinary workstations or servers. Technology like ZeroConf (Rendezvous/Bonjour) can be used to create ad hoc computer clusters for specialized software such as Apple’s Shake compositing application.
Opportunistic Supercomputing is a form of networked grid computing whereby a “super virtual computer” of many loosely coupled volunteer computing machines performs very large computing tasks.