Here's where supercomputers get serious. The first seven entries on the list were fast, but not fast enough for top-three ranking. IBM's new Mira, which becomes fully operational in 2013, peaks at a performance of 8 petaflops. That's more than twice as fast at the SuperMUC in Germany.
Mira runs on 768,000 processor cores. It's located at the Argonne National Laboratory, a research laboratory run for the United States Department of Energy. It uses IBM's BlueGene/Q platform and replaces an older IBM system, Intrepid, which ranked fourth on the list in 2008.
Researchers who submit proposals for the Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment program will be able to claim processor time on Mira. Sixty percent of the computer's capacity will go to their research, while 30 percent will go towards the Advanced Science Computing Research Leadership Computing Challenge. The final 10 percent will be reserved for urgent, time-sensitive computations [source: Information Week].