Ever hear of a petaflop? Until recently I had not, and would have guessed that it was either some kind of houseplant, an undergarment, or a failed gymnastics move. Instead, a petaflop represents one quadrillion floating-point calculations per second, a figure currently at the outer limits of supercomputer capabilities.
As Wired Science reports, a computer scheduled to go online in three years will boost this already staggering figure by a score or so. The 20 * 1015-calculations-per second computer represents the endpoint of a joint venture between nuclear physicists ad IBM, and wil be the property of the department of energy.
The specs of this machine are appropriately boggling, especially to a CS ingenue.
By almost any standard, the new computer will be staggering. It will have 1.6 million processing cores, 1.6 petabytes of memory, 96 racks, and 98,304 computing nodes. Yet, the new computer will have a much smaller footprint at 3,400 square feet than the current fastest computer’s 5,200 square feet. And it will be much more energy efficient than its predecessors, only drawing six megawatts of power a year. That’s about how much energy 500 American homes use in the same period.