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US Reclaims Top Supercomputer Spot with ‘Sequoia’

Posted on June 18, 2012 10:45 AM by Rob Williams
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Not content to sit in second place for too long, the US along with IBM have worked hard to re-secure the top spot on the top 500 fastest supercomputer list. It’s name: Sequoia. It’s performance: about +50% faster than Japan’s K computer, which now sits in the #2 spot. According to David Turek, IBM’s VP of Exascale Computing, Sequoia’s planning spans back two years – and a definite goal was to reclaim that top spot.

As much as I’d love to borrow Sequoia’s power for a day for Folding@home (just imagine the work units crunched!), this government-owned behemoth will be used to render simulations to help extend the life of aging nuclear weapons. Using Sequoia will allow proper research to be conducted without having to resort to underground real-equipment testing.

Sequoia’s equipped with 1.5 million processors (cores), almost double Japan’s K, and consumes 7.9 megawatts of power (vs. the K’s12.6 megawatts). It’s hard to picture a computer with 1.5 million cores as energy efficient, but in comparison to K, Sequoia is looking quite good. Though performance numbers aren’t directly stated, it’s been assumed in the past that Sequoia could reach up to 20 petaflops of performance.

Putting things into perspective, the first-ever supercomputer to make the official top list was the CM-5/1024 by Thinking Machines, back in 1993. Sequoia today is able to calculate in one second what took the CM-5/1024 three days.

In other IBM supercomputer news, the company today unveiled Europe’s fastest, “SuperMUC”. It consists of 18,000 physical processors, all of which are “hot-water cooled” – a process that the company claims is 4,000 times more efficient at removing heat. One of the most interesting aspects of SuperMUC is the fact that it’s tied to the heating system of the building its in, allowing its exhausted energy to be re-purposed. In all, it’s said that SuperMUC’s design saves the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre a staggering $1m Euros annually.

Source: BBC

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