And Today’s ‘Fastest Computer in the World’ Award Goes to…

  • Share
  • Read Later

Anyone else tired of these “fastest computer in the world” stories? I am. They almost sound like bragging. Look what we did with our computer, but you can’t with yours! I don’t really care whether a Smaug-the-dragon treasure horde’s worth of silicon can do 10 or 100 petaflops. I just want to know how many frames per second it gets in Modern Warfare 3, or when it’ll be safe to upload my brain into one so I can stop worrying about this getting old and dying stuff.

But while I’m waiting for Ray Kurzweil’s vision to pull me across the event horizon, it looks like the K computer I wrote about back in June just pulled off another world record, leapfrogging its prior eight petaflops list-topper by over two quadrillion calculations per second.

(MORE: World’s Most Powerful Supercomputer Is Faster than 28,000 PS3s)

Make that 10.51 petaflops (over 10 quadrillion calculations per second) for the proverbial win, which Fujitsu Co.’s K supercomputer achieved with 864 computer racks and 88,128 parallel-linked, eight-core CPUs. Compare with this summer’s 672 rack, 68,544 CPU configuration. It took just 29 hours and 28 minutes to run the full benchmark test (without a single error, says Fujitsu), and it managed to do so at 93.2% efficiency, a hair better than the last official test in June.

That should keep Japan comfortably in the top spot of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, a spot it wrestled away from the Chinese National University of Defense Technology in June. The list is maintain by Top500, and based on how fast each computer can crunch a benchmark called Linpack, which calculates a computer’s floating point power.

And no, as noted in June, the K computer’s still not fully built. The project kicked off in September 2010, but it’s not due to cross the finish line until sometime next year, at which point it’ll be composed of 800 computer racks powered by “ultrafast and energy-efficient CPUs.”

When it’s finished, Fujitsu says it’ll be used to analyze the behavior of nano materials (to aid in development of faster, lower-power devices), help reduce drug development times and costs, help craft better solar cells by simulating atomic interactions, simulate seismic waves for better earthquake prediction and simulate atmospheric circulation for detailed weather prediction.

No word on a “human immortality via brain-dump” feature, but fingers crossed that’s coming soon.

MORE: China’s Supercomputer Fastest in the World, Has American Parts

Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.