Thanks M F for sending this in. A new Japanese supercomputer has taken the title of world's fastest away from the US.
The NEC Earth Simulator processes data five times faster than its closest competitor. It works at a speed of 35,600 gigaflops compared to its closest rival, IBM's ASCI White, which runs at a speed of 7,226 gigaflops. A gigaflop equals a billion mathematical operations per second.
The NEC Earth Simulator is as large as four tennis courts and creates a "virtual planet Earth" to predict climate patterns.
Jack Dongarra, a University of Tennessee computer science professor, leads the group of researchers that tracks the world's 500 speediest computers.
"This machine is more powerful than the 20 fastest computers in the US," Mr Dongarra said. "It's more powerful than all of the Department of Energy and Department of Defence computers together."
Today's most popular supercomputers use a massively parallel processing system, in which thousands of mass-produced microprocessors are linked to solve complex problems.
NEC calls the Earth Simulator a "vector parallel" computer, which combines parallel processing with vector processing.
The TOP500 list is compiled by researchers at the University of Mannheim in Germany and the University of Tennessee. The list ranks computers by their performance on Dongarra's Linpack Benchmark, a standardised measure of a computer's speed at solving a "dense system of equations.