Iowa State University is part of a team planning to develop the world’s most powerful supercomputer. Jim Oliver, with ISU’s CyberInnovation Institute, says researchers in Ames will help design the machine, which will be built by IBM and the University of Illinois.
"It’ll be the ultimate supercomputer," Oliver says, "capable of calculating petascale computation, that means ten to the fifteen, or ten with 15 zeros, number of computations per second…so, far in excess of anything that exists today." The University of Illinois will receive over 200 million dollars to build the computer, which will be 500 times more powerful than today’s typical supercomputers.
Oliver says the machine won’t be ready until 2011, so researchers at ISU will be spending the next few years aligning their research to take advantage of the computer’s capability. Experts say it’s difficult to predict exactly what new discoveries might be possible with the new supercomputer.
The Director of the National Science Foundation, Arden Bement, likens the investment to the second revolution of information technology. "He says everything we’ve seen in the last 15 years, everybody thinks has been explosive," Oliver says, "but he says we haven’t seen anything yet." Oliver says the computer will provide U.S. scientists and engineers with the capability to answer complex questions that they haven’t even thought of yet.