Petascale Day Petascale Day — 10.15

Petascale Day -- 10.15

One peta = ...

Peta- is a prefix in the metric system denoting 1015 or 1,000,000,000,000,000 (1 quadrillion). For example:

1 Petaflop =

1 calculation = 1 second

1 calculation = 1 second

The Blue Waters project will deliver a supercomputer capable of sustained performance of 1 petaflop on a range of real-world science and engineering applications. It is expected to be one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. Think of that power.


1,000,000,000 (109) calculations = 32 years

1 billion calculations = 32 years

A human doing a single mathematical calcluation per second would take about thirty-two years to complete 1 billion calculations. America was celebrating its bicentennial, and the first commercially developed supercomputer—the Cray-1—was being released.

1,000,000,000,000 (1012) calculations = 31,000 years

1 trillion calculations = 31,000 years

But that's nothing compared to 1 trillion calculations. At one calculation per second, you'd be starting 31 thousand years ago, when cavemen were creating the earliest cave paintings.

1,000,000,000,000,000 (1015) calculations = 31 million years

1 quadrillion calculations = 31 million years

Now move to 1 quadrillion calculations. You're beginning 31 million years ago, during the Cenozoic era. The Alps were beginning to rise in Europe, and ancestors to modern horses, dogs, and apes were coming on the scene.

1 PB =

1 petabyte (PB) of disk storage is equivalent to:

Sloan Digital Sky Survey image

60 years of data collection from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Thomas Jefferson Building, U.S. Library of Congress

126 Libraries of Congress


DVD image

more than 212,000 DVDs

Sony Blu-Ray image

40,000 single-layer Sony
Blu-Ray discs

NCSA Coloring Book

more than 4 trillion 200-page books

mp3 player

250 billion mp3 music files