Supercomputers perform a number of tasks including predicting the weather, securing systems and even playing and facilitating games. Supercomputers are particularly useful in scientific fields.
Supercomputers do not garner as much press as they once did, because modern servers are powerful enough for a wide range of tasks. However, supercomputers are still used for a wide range of tasks. In the United States, a supercomputer is used to protect nuclear weapons, and some suspect that government supercomputers are used to break difficult cryptography problems.
Today, supercomputers are often used for scientific pursuits. Because the Earth's weather system is so complex, supercomputers are needed to test various methods of predicting the weather. Similarly, supercomputers are used to test models of the Big Bang and other events thought to occur in the universe.
The definition of what a supercomputer is has changed over time thanks to distributed processing technology. Deep Blue, a chess-playing supercomputer created by IBM, defeated Garry Kasparov at chess in 1996. Because today's computers are so much faster than they were in the 1990s, even a standard desktop computer can beat top-level human competitors. Sophisticated networking infrastructure makes creating a supercomputer simpler than in the past as adding new nodes to a system is comparatively simple.