Gordon uses 300 terabytes of flash, spanning 1,024 high-performance Intel 710 series drives, and the system includes new software designed to aggregate resources from multiple physical server nodes into “super-nodes,” so users have immediate access to data, rather than waiting for the system to access particular drives. Allan Snavely, the SDSC’s associate director, sees this as the world’s largest thumb drive. Flash memory is stuff used not only in USB thumb drives but cell phones and digital cameras. According to Snavely, Gordon can run massive databases up to 10 times faster than traditional memory, and it now ranks 48th on the official Top500 list of the fastest supercomputer in the world. The project is part of a larger trend in the supercomputer game, where systems are moving away from traditional components, toward new types of hardware that can improve speed, cost, efficiency, and, in the case of the Chinese, independence from the West.