Computational creativity and the future of AI

IBM's Sequoia confirmed as world's fastest supercomputer


June 18, 2012

Sequoia's 96 racks during installation (Photo: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

Sequoia's 96 racks during installation (Photo: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

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Clocking a performance of 16.32 petaflop/s, IBM's Blue Gene/Q-class supercomputer Sequoia has become the fastest supercomputer in the world according to the latest TOP500 rankings released today. Sequoia, owned by the Department of Energy and based at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, has relegated Fujitsu's K to second place.

Using LINPACK benchmarking, Sequoia was found to be approximately 55 percent faster than K, which achieved 10.51 petaflop/s to Sequoia's 16.32 petaflop/s (or 16,320,000,000,000,000 flop/s). Standing for floating point operations per second, flop/s are a more sophisticated measure of computer performance than instructions per second, representative of the scientific calculations such supercomputers are likely to perform.

Impressively, Sequoia is reportedly one of the most energy-efficient computers on the list, consuming 7.9 MW of power to K's 12.7 MW. This gives Sequoia an efficiency of approximately 2.07 teraflop/s/W to K's 0.83 teraflop/s/W. Lower power consumption is central to IBM's ongoing Blue Gene project.

The June 2012 top ten looks like this:

1. IBM: Sequoia (DOE Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory - USA)
2. Fujitsu: K (RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science - Japan)
3. IBM: Mira (DOE/SC/Argonne National Laboratory - USA)
4. IBM: SuperMUC (Leibniz Rechenzentrum - Germany)
5. NUDT: Tianhe-1A (National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin - China)
6. Cray: Jaguar (DOE/SC/Oak Ridge National Laboratory - USA)
7. IBM: Fermi (CINECA - Italy)
8. IBM: JuQUEEN (Forschungszentrum Juelich - Germany)
9. Bull: Curie thin nodes (CEA/TGCC-GENCI - France)
10. Dawning: Nebulae (National Supercomputing Centre in Shenzhen - China)

Perhaps the most notable characteristic of the top ten is that IBM supercomputers make up half the list. This marks the first occasion a US computer has topped the list since November 2009.

Sequoia is used by the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration to help assess the USA's nuclear deterrent.

Source: TOP500

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.   All articles by James Holloway

Sweet! 2Tflops/W! I want this in my cell phone!

18th June, 2012 @ 11:23 am PDT

This is basically an exercise to see who can cram more CPUs together.

19th June, 2012 @ 12:45 am PDT

As a tech lover, where is the meat in this article. Does this computer consist of many processors? What type and how many? What makes them so fast? What operating system is being used? How does the energy consumption compare to my Mac per teraflop/s/W?

19th June, 2012 @ 10:14 am PDT

@MBadgero - Hold on tight! That dream will probably come true in 25 years or less.

19th June, 2012 @ 03:07 pm PDT

"Sequoia is used by the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration to help assess the USA's nuclear deterrent." So it take a 16.32 petaflop/s computer to calculate how many nukes the US has? I can think of a lot better uses for this machine than figuring out how many people could be blown up. It's pretty sick that the world's fastest computer is a war calculator.

16th July, 2012 @ 12:38 pm PDT
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