Money Matters - Simplified

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

The crown of the world’s fastest supercomputer now rests with IBM's latest supercomputer, 'Sequoia'. It has taken its position in the TOP500 List after achieving 16.32 petaflops. That was enough to beat Japan's Fujitsu built supercomputer. Thus for the first time in over two years the US has topped the fastest supercomputer rankings.

The US Department of Energy at their Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) will carry out simulated nuclear weapon testing, try to figure out how to extend the life of aging nuclear weapons and also how to avoid live underground tests through Sequoia.

"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."

The computer is capable of calculating in one hour what otherwise would take 6.7 billion people using hand calculators 320 years to complete if they worked non-stop. Although the US's efforts helped secure it the lead, its overall tally of three computers in the top 10 was worse than six months ago when it had five.

China and Germany both have two supercomputers, while Japan, France and Italy have one.But IBM proved to be the leading manufacturer claiming five out of the top 10 spots.David Turek, vice president of deep computing at the firm, informed that his company had been preparing to retake the top spot for two years. "Substantial planning went into this. We knew the day would come."

Sequoia is 1.55 times faster than the Fujitsu model, and uses over 1.5 million processors. In comparison the Japanese model has less than half the number of CPUs (central processing units).

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 file-system.

The first computer to take the top position on the list was the CM-5/1024 in 1993, designed by Thinking Machines. According to US-based Professor Jack Dongarra, Sequoia is 273,930 times faster."A calculation that took three full days to compute on the Thinking Machines in 1993 today can be done in less than one second on the Sequoia," he said.