Supercomputers have always been interesting to me because of the sheer power that they harness, and someday I would like to see one first-hand. According to Wikipedia though a “quad-core Xeon workstation running at 2.66 GHz will outperform a multimillion dollar Cray C90 supercomputer used in the early 1990s.” So having you’re own personal supercomputer isn’t out of the question, but don’t expect to break any records like the newly unveiled IBM Roadrunner does.
The $133 million IBM Roadrunner supercomputer takes the crown with its smashing 1.026 quadrillion calculations it’s capable of performing every second. It’s twice as fast as the IBM BlueGene/L located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Calfornia, which was the previous record holder. The IBM Roadrunner’s home is in New Mexico at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It will primarily be used for military purposes, such as making sure their nuclear weapons will continue to work properly as they age, and also simulating the first fraction of a second during a nuclear explosion.
The IBM Roadrunner is composed of 6,480 dual-core Opterons with a whopping 51.8TB of RAM. To give you a sense it’s power the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration said that if all 6 billion people on earth used hand calculators 24/7 it would take 46 years to accomplish what this supercomputer can do in one day.
What they don’t want you to know about is the “classified” LAN party they have there every night for playing Crysis. Nah, just kidding. It’s running Red Hat Enterprise Linux so there won’t be too much gaming going on there.