IBM is building a super computer, Sequoia, for the US government that is expected to break current processing speed records by a huge margin. It won’t be ready until 2012, but should run at 20 Petaflops. I know, it doesn’t mean much to me either, but that’s 20 quadrillion calculations a second. Yeah, I wasn’t sure what a quadrillion was either (it’s 1,000,000,000,000,000, if that helps). Most news sites are saying it’s equivalent to over 2million laptops.
It’s not, unfortunately, going to be used to develop the next Grand Theft Auto games, but to model nuclear tests and explosions. No one has said when we can expect something like this in our homes, but don’t hold your breath, as Sequoia will need a building the size of a large house! There are some miniaturization issues to solve, as you can see. The very first Apple Macintosh made a good point at its unveiling, which was, ‘never trust a computer you can’t pick up.’
“Experts”, mysterious as always, predict that by 2030 we might have a computer running at a Zetaflop (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 calculations per second) , which would be able to fully model Earth’s weather patterns for two week periods. Whether it will be able to load Windows in under 30 seconds is anyone’s guess.