Oak Ridge Lab builds world's fastest computer, still can't divide by zero

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Titan Cray XK7 supercomputer is officially the world’s fastest data cruncher just after being unveiled last week. According to IEEE Spectrum , Top 500 released an updated list Wednesday morning at the SC12 Supercomputing Conference that shows the Titan toppling its competition with 17.59 petaFLOPS of processing power.

The specs behind Titan’s processing strength include a total of 18,688 nodes, each containing a 16-core AMD Opteron 6274 CPU paired with a NVIDIA Tesla K20 GPU, as well as 710 terabytes of memory. All this hardware is capable of reaching a theoretical peak performance of 27 quadrillion calculations per second (27 petaFLOPS).

In November 2011, Top 500 ranked IBM’s Sequoia as the world’s fastest supercomputer. The Sequoia was equipped with 1,572,864 processor cores that produced 16.32 petaFLOPS to help take care of our nukes.

While Titan won’t be doing anything as eyebrow-raising as managing our nuclear stockpile, it does have a long list of calculations to do for the Department of Energy’s Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment program (INCITE). As part of this program, Titan will help scientists develop a better internal combustion engine, model neutron behavior in a nuclear reactor, play with magnets, and anticipate the effects of climate change.

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