The 4 hardest computing problems on earth

Supercomputers have gotten incredibly powerful. Here are the most difficult engineering problems they are trying to crack.

Bigger brains needed
TRE14 titan supercomputer

America's most powerful supercomputer runs calculations so quickly it makes your laptop look like an abacus. The machine, called Titan, is located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. It is also the fastest supercomputer the world. It can process more than 17 petaflops of data per second -- that's roughly 20,000 trillion simultaneous calculations. Though Titan has the strength of 500,000 laptops, computer scientists are hungry for more. Already, they are dreaming of a machine that could manage an exaflop of data, which would require about 50 times more processing power than Titan. So-called exascale computing could let researchers answer some of the toughest scientific problems. Here's a closer look.

  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated January 15 2013 06:14 AM ET
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