Ever since 2012, scientists have been leaning on the Yellowstone supercomputer to model and predict climate. It's a powerful ally, especially when it's still one of the fastest computers on the planet. However, it's about to be upstaged: the US National Center of Atmospheric Research has unveiled plans to build Cheyenne, an even beastlier machine. When it's ready in 2017, the Silicon Graphics-made, Intel Xeon-powered supercomputer should calculate up to 5.34 petaflops per second, or 2.5 times more than Yellowstone. It'll also have a whopping 313TB of memory, and 20 petabytes (!) of dedicated storage.
This isn't just about bragging rights, of course. Cheyenne's extra grunt should help researchers create more detailed models of climate change, major weather patterns, pollution and even solar storms. Teams will have to get time with Cheyenne before they can produce results, but you may soon get a better understanding of how the Earth is faring.
[Image credit: AP Photo/Mead Gruver]