Less than a week after the Los Alamos National Laboratory's Roadrunner supercomputer began operating at record-breaking speeds, researchers are using the device to analyse "extremely complex" neurological processes.
The petaflop-scale supercomputer, which is based on the Cell chips used in PlayStation consoles and runs on Linux, can perform a mind-boggling million billion calculations s second.
Los Alamos and IBM researchers have used three different computational codes to test the machine, including one dubbed 'PetaVision'.
PetaVision models the human visual system, mimicking the billion-plus visual neurons and trillions of synapses in the human brain.
The scientists explained that, because there are about a quadrillion synapses in the human brain, human cognition is a petaflop per second computational problem.
Los Alamos researchers used PetaVision to model more than a billion visual neurons surpassing the scale of one quadrillion computations a second.
The scientists also used PetaVision to reach a new computing performance record of 1.144 petaflop/s.
The achievement throws open the door to achieving "human-like cognitive performance" in electronic computers, according to the researchers.
"Roadrunner ushers in a new era for science at Los Alamos National Laboratory," said Terry Wallace, associate director for science, technology and engineering at Los Alamos.
"Just a week after formal introduction of the machine to the world, we are already doing computational tasks that existed only in the realm of imagination a year ago."
New regulation expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 17 million metric tonnes between 2020 and 2050
Molybdenum ditelluride is a two-dimensional material that can be easily stacked into multiple layers to create a memory cell
New light-guiding nanoscale device can control and monitor a nanoparticle trapped in a laser beam with high sensitivity
Optical traps are scientific instruments in which a focused laser beam is used to exert an attractive or repulsive force on a microscopic object to hold it in place
Scientists estimate that the exoplanet has already lost up to 35 per cent of its mass over its lifetime