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Definition: supercomputer

The fastest computer currently available. Supercomputers are typically used for simulations in petroleum exploration and production, structural analysis, computational fluid dynamics, physics and chemistry, electronic design, nuclear energy research and meteorology.

From Two Million to Quadrillions
In 1964, executing two million instructions per second (2 MIPS), Control Data's CDC 6600 is considered the first supercomputer. Years ago, it took a supercomputer to perform real-time animation, but that changed as high-performance desktop computers became more capable. Today, supercomputers can have millions of processing cores, and their floating point calculations are measured in quadrillions of operations per second (see petaFLOPS). See Golem Network, supercomputer sites and grid computing.

Supercomputer vs. Quantum Computer Speed
Supercomputers may be the fastest, but although greatly enhanced, they essentially employ the same fundamental architecture in a desktop computer. For certain problems, the speed of quantum computers is expected to exceed supercomputers by orders of magnitude. See quantum supremacy and quantum computing.