Earth’s supercomputing power surpasses human brain three times over

The combined processing power of the world’s most advanced computers has skyrocketed more than 66 percent since November, according to a study of supercomputers released this month.

The study found that the U.S. is home to the world’s most powerful computer once again thanks to a new IBM machine called “Sequoia,” which earned the top rating on the twice-annual “Top500″ list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, compiled by the University of Mannheim in Germany. Second place went to Japan’s K Computer, created by Fujitsu.

Installed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, Sequoia will be used to help simulate conditions related to nuclear weapon decay, enabling scientists to plan out ways of keeping the nation’s aging weapons from degrading too far.

The most powerful systems in the world are ranked by the total number of “petaflops” they can achieve. A single petaflop is equal to 1 quadrillion calculations per second — or 1,000 trillion operations. By comparison, IBM researchers have estimated that a single human brain can process 36.8 petaflops of data.

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