Magazine

Online Extra: Supercomputer Milestones


Supercomputer history begins with Seymour Cray's first design, the CDC 6600 from Control Data Corp. Coming next: the petaflops era. By 2010, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants fantastic machines that can crunch quadrillions of calculations every second.

Year

Supercomputer

Theoretical Peak Speed***

1964

CDC 6600

9 megaflops

1969

CDC 7600

37 megaflops

1976

Cray 1*

166 megaflops

1982

Cray X-MP*

420 megaflops

1989

Cray Y-MP*

1.3 gigaflops

1991

Cray C90*

16 gigaflops

1994

First Beowulf cluster**

3 gigaflops

1997

Intel ASCI Red

1 teraflops

1998

SGI ASCI Blue

3 teraflops

2001

IBM ASCI White

12 teraflops

2002

NEC Earth Simulator*

41 teraflops

2003

HP ASCI Q

20 teraflops

2004

Cray-Sandia Red Storm

40 teraflops

2005

IBM ASCI Purple

100 teraflops

IBM Blue Gene/L

367 teraflops

2010

DARPA prototype

1+ petaflops

*Vector processing

**Forerunner of ASCI program and supercomputer clusters

***A megaflops is a million floating-point operations per second. "Giga" means billion, and "tera" is trillion.


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