Supercomputer history begins with Seymour Cray's first design, the CDC 6600 from Control Data Corp. Coming next: the petaflops era. By 2010, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants fantastic machines that can crunch quadrillions of calculations every second.

Year Supercomputer Theoretical Peak Speed***
1964 CDC 6600 9 megaflops
1969 CDC 7600 37 megaflops
1976 Cray 1* 166 megaflops
1982 Cray X-MP* 420 megaflops
1989 Cray Y-MP* 1.3 gigaflops
1991 Cray C90* 16 gigaflops
1994 First Beowulf cluster** 3 gigaflops
1997 Intel ASCI Red 1 teraflops
1998 SGI ASCI Blue 3 teraflops
2001 IBM ASCI White 12 teraflops
2002 NEC Earth Simulator* 41 teraflops
2003 HP ASCI Q 20 teraflops
2004 Cray-Sandia Red Storm 40 teraflops
2005 IBM ASCI Purple 100 teraflops
IBM Blue Gene/L 367 teraflops
2010 DARPA prototype 1+ petaflops

*Vector processing

**Forerunner of ASCI program and supercomputer clusters

***A megaflops is a million floating-point operations per second. "Giga" means billion, and "tera" is trillion.

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