Commercial computers available on the market have improved speeds. They are faster than ever and the user experience has been enhanced considerably over the years. With new models being released from time to time, this is the best time to be a computer user. However, NASA doesn’t find any use for the computers you might consider fast.
In fact, NASA’s requirements are such that it needs a computer that operates at a speed at least three thousand times faster than conventional computers. And that is what the agency has done. NASA has reportedly bought and installed a computer that uses ‘quantum physics’ effects to increase its speed. According to reports, the speeds it can reach are at least 3,600 times quicker than the computer you are using at home or office.
Keeping in mind NASA’s needs, one feels that even this might be slow for them. Given that they are pushing new boundaries in terms of scientific and technological innovations and space exploration, they need equipment that can enable them to do so. Obviously, the fancy equipment also comes with a heavy price tag. In this case, the computer costs $15 million.
A pertinent example of the computer’s speed is that during the testing phase, it completed a certain task in less than a second. Using the hardware and software of a general computer, the same task would have taken at least 30 minutes. This shows that the ‘quantum’ computer can perform the task 3,600 times (30 x 60 / 0.5) in the time it takes your computer to do it once.
The computer has been developed by D-Wave and is kept in a box the size of a garden shed. The box is important to keep the computer chip cool. NASA is expected to start using after autumn this year.
[Image via slate]