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After you've gotten used to your new computer, the first thing you, and everyone else, wants, whether you're just playing games or chasing down the Higgs Boson particle, is a faster computer. The ultimate search for faster computers happens in supercomputers.
Supercomputers are designed to be orders of magnitude faster than the current generation of computers. So it is that when Seymour Cray designed the Control Data Center (CDC) 6600 in 1964, it was the world's fastest computer... at a top speed of 40MHz or 3 million floating point operations per second (MegaFlops). By comparison, an early model Raspberry Pi with an ARM1176JZF-S 700 MHz processor can run at 42 MegaFlops.
If you know only one name in supercomputi it's probably "Cray." Seymour Cray, the first major and without doubt the greatest supercomputer architect, created the first of his eponymous supercomputers in 1976.
This 80MHz system used integrated circuits to achieve performance rates as high as 136 MegaFlops. Part of the Cray-1's remarkable — for the times — speed came from its unusual "C" shape. This look was not done for aesthetic reasons, but because the shape gave the most speed-dependent circuit boards shorter, hence faster, circuit lengths.
This attention to every last detail of design from the CPU up is a distinguishing mark of Cray's work. In the long run, as we shall see, this custom design approach would prove a dead end.