Stephen Hawking's quite the techie — his next machine will be the "Big Brain," which creator SGI calls "the world’s largest shared memory supercomputer." The SGI UV 2 is greatly improved over its predecessor, the UV 1, with twice as many cores and four times as much memory. With 4,096 Intel Sandy Bridge cores and up to 64 terabytes of memory, the system has a peak I/O rate of 4TB/s — SGI told Data Center Knowledge that the computer could ingest the entire contents of the US Library of Congress in less than three seconds. The supercomputer uses the Intel Xeon E5 processor, many integrated cores (MIC) architecture, and runs vanilla Linux software.

Hawking says that the SGI UV 2 supercomputer "will ensure that UK researchers remain at the forefront of fundamental and observational cosmology." The "Big Brain" is also less expensive than the UV 1, which cost $50,000. The SGI UV 2 is available now starting at $30,000, and will be showing next week at the International Supercomputer Conference. Hawking may be best known for his advances in physics and cosmology, but he's clearly interested in the cutting edge of technology.