An IBM Sequoia supercomputer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) was ranked the world's most powerful computing system.
An IBM supercomputer has
been ranked as the worlds fastest, according to the Top500 list
of the worlds fastest supercomputers.
The National Nuclear
Security Administration (NNSA) on June 18 announced that a supercomputer called
Sequoia at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) was ranked the worlds
most powerful computing system. This is the first time since 2009 that a
U.S.-built supercomputer has taken the top spot on the Top500 list.
Clocking in at 16.32
sustained petaflops (quadrillion floating point operations per second), Sequoia
earned the No. 1 ranking on the industry standard Top500 list of the worlds
fastest supercomputers at the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC12)
in Hamburg, Germany. Sequoia was built for NNSA by IBM.
A 96-rack IBM Blue
Gene/Q system, Sequoia will enable simulations that explore phenomena at a
level of detail never before possible. Sequoia is dedicated to NNSAs Advanced
Simulation and Computing (ASC) program for stewardship of the nations nuclear
weapons stockpile, a joint effort from LLNL, Los Alamos National Laboratory and
Sandia National Laboratories, IBM said.
like Sequoia help the United States keep its nuclear stockpile safe, secure,
and effective without the need for underground testing, NNSA Administrator
Thomas DAgostino said in a statement. While Sequoia may be the fastest, the
underlying computing capabilities it provides give us increased confidence in
the nations nuclear deterrent as the weapons stockpile changes under treaty
agreements, a critical part of President Obamas nuclear security agenda.
Sequoia also represents continued American leadership in high-performance
computing (HPC), key to the technology innovation that drives high-quality jobs
and economic prosperity.
Sequoia will provide a
more complete understanding of weapons performance, notably hydrodynamics and
properties of materials at extreme pressures and temperatures, Bob Meisner,
NNSA director of the ASC program, said in a statement. In particular, the
system will enable suites of highly resolved uncertainty quantification
calculations to support the effort to extend the life of aging weapons systems:
what we call a life-extension program (LEP).
quantification, or UQ, is the quantitative characterization and reduction of
uncertainty in computer applications through running very large suites of
calculations to characterize the effects of minor differences in the systems.
Sources of uncertainty are rife in the natural sciences and engineering. UQ
uses statistical methods to determine likely outcomes.
NNSA officials said the
Sequoia system will be an important tool used to support stockpile life-extension
programs, including the B61 and the W78. By reducing the time required for
these studies, total costs are also reduced. In addition, the machine is
expected to enhance NNSAs ability to sustain the stockpile by resolving any
significant findings in weapons systems, bringing greater power to the annual
assessment of the stockpile, and anticipating and avoiding future problems that
inevitably result from aging. All of this helps to ensure that the nation will
never have to return to nuclear testing, the NNSA said.
Sequoia is an exciting
achievement and not just for its speed and energy efficiency, but also for the
important and complex work it can support to safeguard the nations nuclear
stockpile, Colin Parris, general manager of IBM Power Systems, said in a
statement. With supercomputers capable of 16 sustained petaflops, our ability
to effect strategic change in areas like life sciences, public safety, energy
and transportation that make our world smarter is greater than ever. The
improvements in affordability, performance, efficiency and size that Sequoia
delivers will also enable a broader set of commercial customers to implement
HPC for their competitive advantage.
Supercomputers such as
Sequoia have given the U.S. confidence in its nuclear weapons stockpile over
the 20 years since nuclear testing ended in 1992, the NNSA said. The insight
that comes from supercomputing simulations is also vital to addressing
nonproliferation and counterterrorism issues as well as informing other
national security decisions such as nuclear weapon policy and treaty
partnership has produced six HPC systems that have been ranked among the
worlds most powerful computers including: the Accelerated Strategic Computing
Initiative (ASCI) Blue Pacific; ASCI White; the Advanced Simulation and
Computing (ASC) Purple; Blue Gene/L; Blue Gene/P; and Blue Gene/Q, Sequoia.
ASCI White, Blue Gene/L and now Sequoia all attained a No. 1 ranking on the
Sequoia is primarily
water-cooled and consists of 96 racks, 98,304 compute nodes, 1.6 million cores
and 1.6 petabytes of memory. Though orders of magnitude more powerful than such
predecessor systems as ASC Purple and Blue Gene/L, Sequoia will be roughly 90
times more power-efficient than Purple and about eight times more than BG/L relative
to the peak speeds of these systems.
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.