IBM's new super computer, Roadrunner, is billed at the fastest in the world, operating at one petaflop or one thousand trillion calculations per second. The speed demon was built for the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration to ensure the safety and reliability of the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile. IBM said that in the past 10 years, supercomputer power has increased about 1,000 times.
Today, just three of Roadrunner's 3,456 tri-blade units have the same power as the 1998 fastest computer. Now, a complex physics calculation that will take Roadrunner one week to complete, would have taken the 1998 machine 20 years to finish.