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Supercomputer as fast as human brain?

Supercomputer vs Brain

The US Department of Energy (DoE) is about to operationalize its latest supercomputer, Titan.

The machine is expected to become the world’s fastest supercomputer. This latest machine of the US DoE will displace its other supercomputer, Sequoia, which has been holding the title of fastest supercomputer since June.

Titan itself actually started its life also as the record-holder back in 2005 when it was launched as Jaguar. Its recently completed upgrade apparently merited the change in name.

How fast is Titan? To put some perspective on how fast it really is, a current high-end desktop computer with a 2.5GHz chip can do about 10 gigaflops (10,000,000,000 calculations per second).  That gives users great audio, video, and quick calculations on spreadsheets.

Titan is projected to do 20 quadrillion (i.e., 20,000,000,000,000,000) calculations per second, or in tech lingo, 20 petaflops. This is two million times more powerful than the high-end desktop.

Compared to the human brain, Titan would come closest than any supercomputer before it. Although such a comparison wouldn’t really be an apples-to-apples comparison (more like apples-to-fruit), the brain is estimated to be capable of doing an equivalent of 10-20 petaflops (see: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/05/09/too-hard-for-science-simulating-the-human-brain/).

If you consider that Titan is projected to require about $7 million to operate annually as it uses up 7 megawatts of power to get it going  (see: http://money.cnn.com/2012/10/29/technology/innovation/titan-supercomputer/index.html) and a huge space to house it, however, the human brain just becomes even that more amazing.