Coming online in 2012, the 10-petaflop IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputer, named "Mira", will be used by the Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory to enable advances in areas such as designing ultra-efficient electric car batteries.

Argonne's current supercomputer, Intrepid, is an IBM Blue Gene/P machine capable of producing over 500 trillion calculations a second. Mira will be 20 times faster, running programs at 10 quadrillion calculations a second. To understand the speed IBM explained in a statement that if every man, woman and child in the United States performed one calculation each second, it would take them almost a year to do as many calculations as Mira will do in one second.

"Computation and supercomputing are critical to solving some of our greatest scientific challenges, like advancing clean energy and understanding the Earth's climate," said Rick Stevens, associate laboratory director for computing, environment and life sciences at Argonne National Laboratory.

DOE and Argonne have selected 16 projects that will be the first to gain access to Mira's capabilities. These span a diverse range of projects from reducing energy inefficiencies in transportation and developing advanced engine designs to spurring advances in energy technologies.

Argonne anticipates that the new supercomputer will be one of the fastest and most energy efficient supercomputers in the world after its construction and installation are complete thanks to a combination of innovative new chip designs and extremely efficient water cooling.