OAK RIDGE, Tenn (WVLT) -- When Jeremy Smith arrives at work where he researches new drugs, he sits down at a computer that could blow away the one on which your reading this. The Jaguar supercomputer runs 18,000 times faster.
"These large-scale machines are really used to simulate the world around us and to understand the world around us," Steve Scott of Nvidia Tesla explained. "We can no longer just use theory and experiment to advance science. We use simulation to really understand things at a level that we can't get at experimentally."
At Jaguar's home, the Oak Ridge National Lab, researchers are doing just that, conducting groundbreaking research in fields from medicine to weather research to new forms of energy.
"We''re working on nuclear energy," Buddy Bland of ORNL Leadership Computing Facility. "About 20% of the electrical power in this country comes from nuclear energy and those nuclear plants are starting to age a little bit. And so, we're working on trying to develop a new set of modeling and simulation tools that will allow us to re-certify those plants and then also to be able to develop new nuclear power plants that will be more efficient."
And Jaguar's not alone. There are hundreds of supercomputers around the world, with K computer in Japan holding the fastest title.
But that may change in a few months, after an upgrade to Jaguar.
Bland said, "We have Jaguar, which is the department of energy and the united states' most powerful computer for open science computing and it can run about 2.3 quadrillion calculations every second or 2.3 petaflops. We can move that data at about 250 gigabytes per second which is way faster than the fastest Internet connection you've ever seen."
This amount of power and speed can have a lot of real world impact.
Research and experiments that would have taken months or years, can now be accomplished in just a few days.
"By screening millions of drugs with millions of proteins, we hope we'll save them a lot of time that they would have spent doing expensive experimental testing," said Jeremy Smith of ORNL Leadership Molecular Biophysics. "We'll not only be able to find out possible targets for these molecules, but all the side effects as well, and in a personalized way."