IBM announces 10 petaflop 'Mira' supercomputer

IBM has announced its latest entry into the world of high-performance computing, Mira: a supercomputer measured at an impressive 10 petaflops.

Mira, based on IBM's Blue Gene/Q platform, is capable of churning through around 10 quadrillion calculations per second - around four times the performance of the current fastest computer in the world, China's Tianhe-1A.

The system is to be installed at the Argonne National Laboratory, a US Department of Energy institution, where it will be used to work through a variety of complex calculations to aid research into better battery technology, climate change, and the evolution of the universe - plus, given that it's the DoE, the usual nuclear reaction simulations.

"Computation and supercomputing are critical to solving some of our greatest scientific challenges, like advancing clean energy and understanding the Earth's climate," claimed Argonne's associate director of computing Rick Stevens. "[Mira] will help address the critical demand for complex modelling and simulation capabilities, which are essential to improving our economic prosperity and global competitiveness."

While Mira is unlikely to stay at the top of the charts for long, it's a testament to the amazing changes that have occurred in the high-performance computing market in recent years. Taking up a fraction of the space and drawing significantly less power than the slower behemoths more commonly associated with the name 'supercomputer,' IBM's Blue Gene platform is undoubtedly impressive.

Now it just remains to be seen what China's answer is to the US's regained dominance in the supercomputing space.