The 5 Most Expensive Super Computers! ($1.2 Billion)

5. ASC Purple and BlueGene/L (US) – $290 million


At the time, at a press conference, the DoE announced that these two systems would have 1.5 times more processing power than all other 500 machines on the 2002 TOP500 list combined.

4. Sierra and Summit (US) – $325 million


Sierra’s purpose at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will be to ensure safety and effectiveness of (you guessed it) the nation’s nuclear program. Meanwhile, Summit will the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s aging Titan supercomputer, meant for scientific applications around the world.

3. Tianhe-2 (China) – $390 million


Tianhe-2 is able to perform 33,860 trillion calculations per second. One hour of these calculations by the supercomputer is the equivalent of 1,000 years of difficult sums by 1.3 billion people. As unfathomable as that number is, the future only grows brighter for information technology. Tianhe-2 is used for simulation, analysis, and government security applications.

2. Earth Simulator (Japan) – $500 million


ES was the fastest supercomputer in the world from 2002 to 2004. As you can expect from the rapid growth of technology since then, it doesn’t hold a candle to the speed of modern supercomputers, but it was big news in the early 21st century. The Earth Simulator System has several features to help protect the computer from earthquakes (rubber supports on a seismic isolation system) and lightning (a high-voltage, shielded nest that hangs over the building).

1. Fujitsu K (Japan) – $1.2 billion


In 2011, TOP500 ranked K the world’s fastest supercomputer, and in November 2011 the system became the first computer to top 10 PFLOPS officially. In 2012, K was superceded by IBM’s Sequoia as the world’s fastest supercomputer. The K computer, located at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science, is 60 times faster than the Earth Simulator. K costs $10 million a year to operate, using 9.89 MW of power, or the equivalent of almost 10,000 suburban homes, or one million linked desktop computers.

Author: Tom Lafford

Twitter: @laffylafford