Japan Claims the Fastest Computer in the World

Shut up and sit down, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Tianjin National Supercomputing Center: you've just had your petaflops handed to you by Japan's Riken Advanced Institute for Computational Science, whose K Computer is the #1 in the world.

K is a cluster of 672 server cabinets filled with over 68,000 Fujitsu SPARC64 VIIIfx processors, with a combined processing punch 8.2 quadrillion calculations per second (8.2 petaflops), the New York Times reports. That's a lot of calculations—about the equivalent of a million standard desktop PCs. And the electricity bill shows it! The K draws enough juice to power 10,000 houses at once.

So what do you do with a computer powerful enough to cause a blackout in a small town? Fujitsu says the world champion will be used for "global climate research, meteorology, disaster prevention, and medicine." Noble! And don't feel too bad, American readers: we've still got the number three computer in the world! Bronze! Yeah! [NYT and Riken]