Titan, Possibly the World’s Most Powerful Supercomputer


Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Titan supercomputer. Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Titan, the new supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), may be the most powerful machine on Earth; but this won’t be confirmed for a few more weeks.

Titan was revealed on Monday by ORNL, a Tennessee lab run by the Department of Energy, and it is a Cray supercomputer made up of nearly 19,000 processing units stitched together with 710 terabytes of memory.


The Titan supercomputer. Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

It can perform 20 quadrillion calculations per second, which is 20 petaflops. That’s enough to beat Sequoia, an IBM system at Lawrence Livermore National Labs, which was benchmarked at 16 petaflops.

Titan is part of a new trend in supercomputing, using graphics processing chips to do some calculations. However, it remains to be seen if Titan can actually beat Sequoia. The Oak Ridge team will need to do some careful implementations in order to come ahead of Sequoia’s benchmarking tests.

Oak Ridge National Lab’s previous big supercomputer was called Jaguar, and Titan is ten times more powerful. Jaguar was also built by Cray and it was the world’s fastest supercomputer only three years ago. It ranked number six on the most recent list.

The order of magnitude increase in computational power will allow researchers to investigate more realistic models with better accuracy. Oak Ridge plans to use Titan to run computer simulations on energy, climate change, and materials.

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