High specification personal computers mean that most of us can perform our jobs sat at home, work or even on the road.
But processing and modelling large amounts of data to help our understanding of complex and mammoth tasks like the formation of the universe, predicting weather patterns, or large and complex engineering problems require more than the average desktop computer.
Hence, the growth of supercomputers in recent times. But they don’t come cheap.
Later this year the UK’s Met Office £97 million (US$ 146 million) supercomputer will come online.
Eventually, its processing power will be 16 petaflops – meaning it can perform 16 quadrillion calculations every second.
The “Cray XC40” machine will have 480,000 central processing units or CPUs, which is 12 times as many as the current Met Office supercomputer, made by IBM.
At 140 tonnes, it will also be three times heavier – more a ‘floortop’ than a desktop.