Supercomputers are some of the most exciting technologies, with some capable of performing quadrillions of calculations per second - allowing scientists to create complex data models that accelerate medical research, help society prepare for extreme weather events, and map the very fabric of the universe.
A powerful computer needs a powerful name. And given the imaginative names of many of the supercomputers at the national laboratories, it’s fair to say these supercomputers have inspired researchers’ minds both technically and creatively.
Here’s a look at just a few.
Titan – Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Titan is the most powerful supercomputer in the world for collaborative science with the capability of performing 27 quadrillion calculations per second. For some perspective, that’s the equivalent of the world’s 7 billion people calculating 3 million calculations per second.
Titan is an upgrade of the facility’s previous supercomputer Jaguar, which boasted impressive speeds itself at 2 quadrillion calculations per second.
Summit – Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are eagerly looking ahead to 2018, which will mark the arrival of their latest supercomputer, Summit. The machine holds the promise of enabling scientists to scale the highest peaks of open science, offering society the chance to address fundamental questions concerning our place in the universe. It is projected to deliver more than five times the computational performance of Titan, adding greater resolution and complexity to scientific research.
Sequoia - Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Northern California is home to both Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and some of the world’s tallest redwoods, including the beloved Sequoia. It’s the perfect home for the lab’s powerful supercomputer Sequoia, which simulates a range of scenarios in the performance of nuclear weapons. (And, like the majestic redwood forests, it depends on water as the machine is primarily water-cooled.)
Cori - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Renowned biochemist Gerty Cori was the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in science. Dr. Cori is remembered today for pursuing major scientific breakthroughs, including her co-discovery of what has been dubbed “the Cori cycle,” an important metabolic process in the body.
She has even been immortalized with craters on both Venus and the moon named in her honor. However, there may be no more fitting tribute than the enormous computing capabilities of her namesake supercomputer, Cori - the fifth most powerful supercomputer in the world.
Edison - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Another supercomputer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is also named for a renowned scientific pioneer - the Edison, designed to accommodate both traditional modeling needs and cutting-edge data analytics.
The machine fittingly conveys the extraordinary breadth of Thomas Edison’s scientific interests, supporting research in everything from high energy physics to bioscience to exploring the early origins of our universe.
Vulcan – Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Vulcan at LLNL has been leveraged by a number of industry partners to advance breakthroughs in auto and jet engine efficiency – making the machine the perfect namesake for the Roman god of fire (or, if you prefer, the technical acumen of Star Trek’s most famous Vulcan, Spock).
Peregrine – National Renewable Energy Laboratory
The Peregrine falcon is recognized as the world’s fastest flying bird, and the Peregrine supercomputer is the flagship high-performance computer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
The machine is especially noteworthy for demonstrating the potential for efficiently cooling supercomputers with liquids, saving NREL approximately $1 million annually in energy costs.