IBM supercomputer overtakes Japan's Fujitsu as world's fastest

By Lee Kaelin on June 18, 2012, 10:00 AM

IBM's latest supercomputer, Sequoia, has taken the crown as the world’s fastest supercomputer in the TOP500 List after achieving 16.32 petaflops. That was enough to beat Japan's Fujitsu built supercomputer and marks the first time in over two years the US has topped the fastest supercomputer rankings.

Sequoia will be put to use by the US Department of Energy at their Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) for carrying out simulated nuclear weapons testing, helping figure out how to extend the life of aging nuclear weapons and also to avoid live underground tests.

"While Sequoia may be the fastest, the underlying computing capabilities it provides give us increased confidence in the nation's nuclear deterrent," said National Nuclear Security Administration administrator Thomas D'Agostino. "It also represents continued American leadership in high performance computing."

Sequoia provides an astounding 16.32 petaflops of computing performance, around 16 thousand trillion calculations per second and comprises of 96 racks containing 98,304 compute nodes, 1.6 million processor cores and 1.6 petabytes of RAM covering over 4,500 square feet of floorspace.

"For a machine with 1.6 million cores to run for over 23 hours six weeks after the last rack arrived on our floor is nothing short of amazing," LLNL division leader Kim Cupps told Ars Technica. It achieved this score by running the Linpack benchmark for 23 hours solid without a single core failing, although the unit is actually capable of exceeding 20 petaflops.

In comparison, Japan's Fujitsu built K Computer housed in the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science has 705,000 processing cores giving 10 petaflop. Japan's supercomputer previously took the crown from a Chinese built supercomputer. The last time the US held the top spot was back in November 2009.

Despite its enormous size, IBM boasts the supercomputer is actually very efficient. It consumes 7,890 kilowatts of power at full load, whereas Japan's now second-placed K Computer consumes considerably more at 12,659 kilowatts. Its reduced power consumption is due in part to its primary cooling system, which uses water running through tiny copper pipes encircling each node card.

The entire supercomputer runs on Linux, with Compute Node Linux running on nearly 98,000 nodes, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux running on 768 I/O nodes that are connected to the filesystem.

User Comments: 25

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Guest said:

"But can it play Crysis"

peperonikiller peperonikiller said:

"But can it play Crysis"

Maybe on high... maybe

Scshadow said:

"But can it play Crysis"

Pretty sure a lot of things can play crisis now.

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

oh god hahaha

"for carrying out simulated nuclear weapons testing"


Guest said:

I used to have a Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop that was quicker, had to let it go after my leg vaporized.

Guest said:

How many AA batteries you need to power it for a day?

Guest said:

But the ultimate questions is...............will it blend?

bandit8623 said:

ahh good old IBM P-series still kicking ***

Guest said:

"I used to have a Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop that was quicker, had to let it go after my leg vaporized."

I still have mine running like a champ, after so many use.

yRaz yRaz said:

"But can it play Crysis"

Pretty sure a lot of things can play crisis now.

Depends on the settings. For anyone with a setup worthy of playing crysis they have atleast a 1080P monitor. Therefore, there is still no single-gpu solution that can get the magic 60FPS in crysis at 1080p



Opus Opus said:

That kind of horse power is amazing.... I would love to compile my programs on that kind of machine... Awesome...

Guest said:

Some world class comments for a wolrd class supercomputer, 20 petaflops of compute power, wonder how many digits of pir it can calculate in 1 minute.

Guest said:

Still too weak to play Tetris...

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Some world class comments for a wolrd class supercomputer, 20 petaflops of compute power, wonder how many digits of pir it can calculate in 1 minute.

I presume you mean Pi.

This supercomputer obviously isn't designed for such frivolous tasks. Extending the life of the United States aging nuclear arsenal is a much more noble cause- I mean, you can't advertise a W80 Mod 1 as having a 150 kiloton yield if radioactive decay means that it might only be 145, for instance.

/post may contain traces of sarcasm

Guest said:

How about Notepad and Tetris in 1080p?

Guest said:

May not be worth feeding trolls, but it's not a matter of 145 vs 150 kiloton yields. Due to a lot of factors there's an open question as to if some older ones would still detonate at all. It might be asking far too much of hippies to comprehend, but the use of nuclear weapons isn't their value in war, but their political value of their existence and effectiveness. The nuclear umbrella and blank-check promise of support has kept Japan and South Korea both at peace for half a century, and was the only thing stopping the Soviets. But I know, historical facts, boring.

Furthermore, liberals should embrace it, because if we can be absolutely certain of the effectiveness of existing warheads then we don't need to plan to keep extras in reserve for that hypothetical war that should never happen and still be seen as having an effective deterrent. IE, this allows nuclear disarmament to continue its slow march forward.

John Senchak John Senchak said:

But can it run Windows 8 ??

NightAngel79 said:

Yes but not Vista

Guest said:

The supercomputer in question is NOT for modelling nuclear weapons, where did that red herring come from?

Guest said:

a typical AA battery provides roughly 2.4 WHs; this would mean it would take 3,287,500 AA batteris to run this device.

Guest said:

Previous guest:- I understand that AA battery is system of anti-aircraft guns, what does WHS stand for please?

Guest said:

W.H. Smith, it's a newsagent/stationers

Guest said:

So each stationer/newsagent is roughly equivalent to 1369791 & two thirds anti-aircraft batteries?

What has that to do with the IBM Supercomputer?

Guest said:

Does anyone remember that 80's movie called "WarGames"?

Guest said:

And now boys and girls, since we've plumbed the depths of calculating Pi to the umpteenth digit, mined the secrets of nuclear arms, their deterrent as well as social relevance, rehashed the dried up, passe,. internet meme, about playing Crysis, let's talk about something fresh! For example, if you threw about a gross of NICs into this thing, hooked each one up to a FIOS connection, how many petabytes of porn do you think you could download in an hour?

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