The history of computing from punched cards to petaflops
- Managing Editor
- Clay Dillingham
National security science drives the evolution of supercomputing
SUMMARYScientists at Los Alamos have pushed the frontiers of computing in order
- to design and simulate nuclear weapons performance and also
- to advance many fields of science.
During World War II, Los Alamos relied on the precursors of computers to perform the calculations necessary for building the atomic bomb.
Since then the Laboratory has used many historical computers. In the 1950s it used the first modern computers, ENIAC and MANIAC. Los Alamos had its first supercomputer (capable of one megaflop) in the 1960s.
In 2008 its uniquely designed Roadrunner was the fastest supercomputer in the world. It was the first supercomputer to reach a thousand trillion calculations per second, a measure known as petaflops.
The next supercomputer at Los Alamos, Trinity, will be even faster than Roadrunner.
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