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Where It's Hip to Count Flops


Last summer the U.S. Department of Energy's $120 million IBM Roadrunner supercomputer at Los Alamos National Laboratory was declared the fastest computer in the world, churning out an incredible 1.026 petaflops, the first system ever to break the petaflops barrier. "Flops" is an acronym for Floating Point Operations Per Second, and 1 petaflops represents 1,000 trillion calculations per second. The Roadrunner accomplishment is all the more remarkable given the fastest machine the year before could only process 280 teraflops.

Benefiting from advancements in chip technology, high performance computers are becoming less expensive, greener, more open and clustered, making them suitable for markets beyond the traditional government labs, universities and energy companies.

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