IBM to build world's fastest supercomputer

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Forget Intel Dual Core and the desktop battle for the fastest PC – the real speed is in the supercomputer and IBM are about to build the world’s most powerful one at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico.

Codenamed Roadrunner, it could be four times more powerful than the current fastest computer, BlueGene/L – also an IBM build.

The new computer features 16,000 conventional supercomputer processors plus 16,000 new cell chip designed for use in the Playstation 3.

The machine may well be used to monitor the United States’ vast array of nuclear weapons – no wonder it has to be a supercomputer. It would simulate how nuclear materials age.

If you want to know how fast it goes, you’re going to have to use another silly acronym. A ‘flop’ is a single floating point operation, and this machine will be capable of petaflops – over 1,000 trillion calculations per second. Not bad, then.

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Andy Merrett