Computer giant IBM will build the world’s most powerful supercomputer at a US government laboratory. The machine, codenamed Roadrunner, could be four times more potent than the current fastest machine, BlueGene/L, also built by IBM. The new computer is a ‘hybrid’ design, using both conventional supercomputer processors and the new ‘cell’ chip designed for Sony’s PlayStation 3. Roadrunner will be installed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico. The laboratory is owned by the US Department of Energy (DOE). Eventually the machine could be used for a programme that ensures the US nuclear weapons stockpile remains safe and reliable, the DOE said in a statement. Using supercomputers to simulate how nuclear materials age negates arguments for the resumption of underground nuclear testing. Peak speeds The new machine will be able to achieve ‘petaflop speeds,’ said IBM. One petaflop is the equivalent of 1,000 trillion calculations per second. Running at peak speed, it will be able to crunch through 1.6 thousand trillion calculations per second. Installed at the DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and also used for the DOE’s Stockpile Stewardship Program, it has achieved 280.6 teraflops and is […]

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