The world's largest supercomputer won't be a room-sized processor, but a $2 billion telescope, if building starts as planned by 2016.

The supercomputer will be attached to what is expected to be the world's most powerful telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), and will crunch through one exabyte of raw data per day.

Put into perspective, one Exabyte of data is the equivalent of five times all the printed material in the world, 15 million iPods or 1 million 1 terabyte hard drives.

Instead of storing the data, which would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, the telescope will turn the raw numbers into useful information with the fastest speed in the world.

That's if all goes to plan.

The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) that is heading the effort is looking into how to build the supercomputer without going broke.

The ICRAR is a joint venture between Curtin University and The University of Western Australia and is working with the Canadian Astronomical Data Centre (CADC) to build the supercomputer.

We're not just facing challenges in storing all that data but processing it into something useful, ICRAR's head of computing, Andreas Wicenec, said in a statement.

Even powering a computer big enough to manage the huge task needs to be researched and developed, he added.

The group will have a tight deadline if they are to build the world's fastest supercomputer.

We have only three years of design and refinement before SKA construction begins, so we'll need to be strategic about where our research is directed, Wicenec said.