World’s fastest supercomputer – 280.6 TFlop/s

For the fourth straight time, the BlueGene/L System development by IBM installed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., claimed the No. 1 spot.

bluegene_photo.jpg The BlueGene/L reached a Linpack benchmark performance of 280.6 TFlop/s (“teraflops” or trillions of calculations per second).

IBM’s BlueGene covers an area the size of two basketball courts and is used by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) program to help ensure the safety and reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile without real-world testing. Delivery of the BlueGene from IBM facilities in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California required 28 tractor trailer trucks! It uses enough electricity to power a small town.

However, supercomputing power which far exceeds BlueGene was accomplished in biological systems long before IBM and the others.

LeafcutterAntWorkersCuttingALeaf.jpg For example, the average ant brain has about 250,000 neurons. Each neuron has thousands of dendrites which are the electrical connections that “fire” info packets to adjoining nerve cells. Neurons can fire several million times per second. So a single ant brain has a minimum capability of 1.2 trillion calculations per second and the brainpower of an ant colony with the Queen and her ant subjects far surpasses BlueGene computing power.

Your human brain is altogether staggering.


The highly portable human brain is only the weight of a couple of potatoes. Yet it has a 100 billion cells each possessing thousands of dendritic synapses. Counting all of the dendritic/synaptic connections (10,000 per cell) these nerve cells can fire, according to some neurobiologists, more than 5 million times per second. This equals 50,000 trillion cell to cell communication events per second!

Your necktop computer–brain–is more than a million times faster than BlueGene.

But, the gap is closing. Some say artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence by 2020–and when it does so it will be aware of the fact!! Uh-oh!

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