Jaguar, the world’s fastest supercomputer, can churn through trillions of calculations per second, and is yielding big breakthroughs in science. Next up, many hope, are “exascale” supercomputers, which run 500 times faster than Jaguar–or about the combined performance of 50 million MacBook Pros. To hit that goal scientists may be sprucing up the machines with a shinier replacement of boring old silicon: diamonds.
Discovery reported this week that diamond-based supercomputers could “store millions of times more information than current silicon-based systems and process that information dozens of times faster.” Using large sheets of diamonds, scientists at the University of California in Santa Barbara were able to infuse the rocks with “tiny, nitrogen-filled holes.” These nitrogen-infused diamonds would exponentially increase the power of silicon-based computers.
Of course, these supercomputers won’t be some kind of shiny go-to electronic device for hip-hop stars, like the $20,000 diamond-encrusted iPad. Rather, diamond-powered supercomputers could have a significant impact in medicine, cryptography, and climate change.
Jaguar, for example, has already helped scientists simulate 21,000 years of earth’s climate history–in a process that would take regular desktop PCs millennia to complete. Improvements in silicon-based computing could bring us to the next-generation of supercomputer research.
Not to mention provide scientists with some much-needed bling.