BBC Future

Titan Supercomputer: The building of a speed machine

  • Speed machine
    Engineers have put the finishing touches to Titan – a machine that expected to become the world's most powerful supercomputer. (Copyright: ORNL)
  • Future upgrade
    Titan, located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US, is not a totally new machine, but an upgrade of the facility’s existing Jaguar supercomputer. (Copyright: ORNL)
  • Chip change
    The new machine was built by adding a graphics processor – commonly used in video games consoles - alongside every one of Jaguar's existing 18,688 chips. (Copyright: ORNL)
  • Turbo-charged
    Graphics chips are increasingly being used in supercomputers as they are able to carry out hundreds of calculations simultaneously. (Copyright: ORNL)
  • Flat out
    The addition of the chips means that Titan has a theoretical top speed of 20 petaflops – or 20 quadrillion calculations per second. (Copyright: ORNL)
  • Burning up
    The number cruncher, owned by the US department of Energy, will be used for complex simulations including testing new drugs, simulating supernovae and combustion. (Copyright: ORNL)
  • Finishing touches
    Although the machine is now complete, it will only begin to be used to its full potential in in early 2013. (Copyright: ORNL)
  • Next generation
    Finishing the computer is one more step on the road towards a so-called exascale machine, one thousand times more powerful than Titan. (Copyright: ORNL)
What is expected to become the world’s fastest supercomputer has been completed.

Titan, owned and operated by the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is theoretically capable of  20 petaflops – or more than 20,000 trillion calculations every second.

The current fastest civilian supercomputer is an IBM machine called Sequoia, at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which is capable of 16.32 petaflops.

Titan is an upgrade of the Oak Ridge lab’s existing supercomputer Jaguar, has been in development for the last three years.

Read more about the machine in our in-depth feature here.

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