A new supercomputer designed for the US military has smashed through the petraflop barrier, making it the fastest machine on earth. The machine, dubbed Roadrunner after the state bird of Mexico, can process 1.026 quadrillion calculations per second, double that of the previous record holder IBM BlueGene/L.That mammoth processing power is provided by 116,640 processor cores, 12,960 of which are modified Cell parallel processors originally designed for Sony's PlayStation 3. The machine also utilises AMD Opteron processors.Roadrunner was built by IBM at a cost of $133 million (67 million) and will be employed by the military to simulate potential launch behaviour of its ageing nuclear stockpile, removing the need for test fires.Scientists are also hoping to use the equipment to simulate climate change scenarios, before it gets secreted away in some military bunker and never seen again. IBM will now have its eye on the next thousandfold increase, which will bring us to the exaflop which, if current rate of growth is anything to go by, should arrive in around 10 or 11 years time.
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