Building better climate models is becoming more important, as scientists work to predict the potential effects of a warming planet. Supercomputers are already integral to our understanding of atmospheric changes. "Whenever you see forecasters on TV, that weather movie took hours and hours to render on a supercomputer," says Sumit Gupta, a general manager at Nvidia's accelerated computing unit. (Nvidia's chips help power Titan.) But the best supercomputers today fall short of researchers' goals. If you think of the globe as an image, the best supercomputers can only render pixels the size of 14 square kilometers. An exascale computer could bring that down to one square kilometer. The effect? Scientists could see the impact of minutely detailed climate factors such as individual cloud formations and ocean eddies.
Getting supercomputers to understand slang may be the final frontier in machine intelligence.