A USA government computer in New Mexico is the first supercomputer to perform at one petaflop (one thousand trillion calculations per second). Designed and built by IBM, the Roadrunner uses both traditional computer chips and the Cell Broadband Engine. The cell processor was originally designed for video game consoles such as the Sony Playstation 3.
Roadrunner will be used primarily to ensure the safety and reliability of the US nuclear weapons stockpile, and it will also do research into astronomy, energy, human genome science and climate change.
Roadrunner’s petaflop performance is roughly equivalent to the combined computing power of 100,000 of today’s fastest laptop computers. That’s a stack of laptops 2.4 km high. It would take the entire population of the earth, each working a handheld calculator at the rate of one second per calculation, more than 46 years to do what Roadrunner can do in one day.