10 Major Players in Supercomputers

Leibniz-Rechenzentrum (Germany)

Imagine going to school at a university that had a 2.89-petaflop supercomputer stashed away. Oh, the Warcraft sessions that you would have! Seriously though, Leibniz Computing Center stands out for a few reasons: First, it was Europe's fastest high-performance computer as of September 2012. Also, it's the fastest system on this list that's run by an academic institution, Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, near Munich.

The Intel-compatible IBM system dubbed SuperMUC, which debuted on the Top500 list at No. 4 in June 2012, sees use in many disciplines -- unlike the computers at Argonne and Lawrence Livermore that have more rigid areas of research. Fluid dynamics and aerodynamics of cars are some of the early tests being calculated in the Leibniz machine, and the system is also making headway in modeling earthquakes.

What's perhaps most impressive is Leibniz's use of supercomputers for education. Where other facilities seem to keep everyone's grubby hands away from their computers, Leibniz has a more open approach that makes access to learning about high-performance computing seem more accessible [source: Jülich].