Titan is built into 200 server cabinets, which is the same size as Jaguar. ORNL upgraded by moving to 16-core CPUs and the latest graphics processors, which are faster and more power efficient. Titan has 700TB of memory.
Titan consumes about 9 megawatts of power and the energy costs for running the supercomputer could add up to $10 million a year, Nichols said. The DOE is willing to absorb the cost because it knows that a sophisticated research program is needed, Nichols said.
The next milestone for supercomputers is to reach exaflop performance, which is about 1,000 petaflops, by 2018. ORNL upgrades the supercomputer at a three to four year clip, and Nichols expects a major upgrade to Titan in 2016. He also hopes an exaflop system will be in place at ORNL by 2020, though he added nothing was certain.
"We have to think about making the case for the 2020 exascale machine or 2016 machine. We have to start talking to vendors about those machines," Nichols said.