NEC has a new supercomputer it’s touting as the world’s fastest. The SX-9 is capable of processing a peak 839 teraFLOPS, and a peak vector performance of 102.4 gigaFLOPS per individual core. Well hey, that’s a lot of FLOPS. The picture above might be a little misleading, but each SX-9 is actually a little taller than your average person. Like the computers of old that were as big as a room, you don’t want one of these sitting on your desk. Yet.

Supercomputers are incredibly useful in fields where there’s an enormous amount of information which must be handled regularly, like weather forecasting or fields that rely on advanced mathematics. Progress has been fast: at the beginning of 2007, IBM and Cray had supercomputers capable of processing 280.6 TFLOPS and 318 TFLOPS, respectively. Deep Blue, probably the most famous supercomputer for taking on chess champion Garry Kasparov, was capable of processing 11.38 GFLOPS. — Kevin Hall

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