IBM is developing a new supercomputer codenamed Roadrunner. This supercomputer will use both the conventional supercomputer processors and the new Cell chip designed for the PlayStation 3 console.
Roadrunner will be installed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico. The laboratory is owned by the US Department of Energy (DOE). Eventually the machine could be used for a programme that ensures the US nuclear weapons stockpile remains safe and reliable, the DOE said in a statement.
Using supercomputers to simulate how nuclear materials age negates arguments for the resumption of underground nuclear testing.
The new machine will be able to achieve "petaflop speeds," said IBM. One petaflop is the equivalent of 1,000 trillion calculations per second. Running at peak speed, it will be able to crunch through 1.6 thousand trillion calculations per second.