Image: Jaguar Supercomputer
This photo released Monday from The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., shows some of the 284 computer cabinets making up the lab's Jaguar supercomputer.
updated 11/11/2008 6:28:16 PM ET 2008-11-11T23:28:16

How fast is the new supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory? If everyone in the world performed one mathematical calculation per second, it would take 650 years to do what this machine can do in one day.

That makes the $100 million computer, nicknamed "Jaguar" by scientists, the fastest in the world for unclassified scientific research. At more than 1 quadrillion mathematical calculations per second, it is about 55,000 times faster than your typical PC.

Only one other supercomputer is faster, and it's devoted to classified research on nuclear weapons at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Global climate change, space matter that can't be seen, and alternative energy — everything from improved gasoline combustion to fusion — are some of the subjects Jaguar will be used to research.

In June, Jaguar, a Cray Inc. system, was rated fifth-fastest in the world by researchers who track the 500 top supercomputers. The Oak Ridge lab, a Department of Energy facility, announced Monday that it had upgraded Jaguar since then, and achieved its four-year goal of 1 quadrillion calculations per second — or 1 "petaflop" — six months ahead of schedule.

Jaguar recently achieved sustained performance of more than 1.3 petaflops while churning out calculations on superconductivity and has hit a peak speed of 1.64 petaflops, the lab said.

It is still undergoing final trials but should be ready for research by January. Thomas Zacharia, Oak Ridge's associate director for computing, anticipates a waiting list of proposals and near full-time operation when the computer begins work. All users must share their results with the broader scientific community.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments