The Jaguar XT5 computer, housed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Knoxville, Tenn. and owned by the Department of Energy was just named the fastest computer in the world by the TOP500 list. It has a performance speed of 1.759 petaflops or quadrillions of calculations per second and that power is being focused on solving the issues of climate change.
The Jaguar is an open science machine for performing peer-reviewed research. It is being used to create models and simulations for predicting regional climate change, studying enzymes for developing better ethanol and writing algorithms for fast nuclear reactors that would produce less waste. A billion hours of processor time have been scheduled for 2010 by users like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Argonne National Laboratory and the National Science Foundation.
If you're thinking that the fastest computer in the world should be used for other problems too, don't worry, the Jaguar along with the other supercomputers on the list are also being used for things like nuclear security, developing better medicines and examining the origins of the universe, among other things.
Oak Ridge hosts four of the supercomputers on the list, including Kraken which was number three in the world with a speed of 831 teraflops. Where the human brain's processing performance ends, these supercomputers pick up, allowing tons of information to be sorted, processed and analyzed. With all of the challenges facing us in tackling climate change, it's nice to have them on our side.
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