June 19th, 2012 by James Ayre
The Energy Secretary of the United States, Steven Chu, announced on June 18th that a newly built supercomputer called Sequoia is now the fastest computer in the world.
Built for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in Livermore, California; Sequoia has now been ranked in ‘The Top500 list’, which is an annual ranking of the world’s fastest supercomputers. They just released their new list at the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC12) in Hamburg, Germany on Monday, June 18.
Three of the other supercomputers in the top 20 are owned by other Department of Energy national laboratories. ‘Mira’ at Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Illinois, is ranked third; ‘Jaguar’ at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is ranked sixth; and ‘Cielo’, which is jointly operated by Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico, is ranked fifteenth.
“Today’s announcement puts the United States firmly on the forefront of developing computing systems that will advance the world in many far-reaching ways, while driving high-quality jobs and economic prosperity here at home,” said Secretary Chu. “I congratulate the national laboratories in their rankings of the world’s fastest supercomputers and for paving the way for the technologies of the future.”
In the United States, supercomputers are used by researchers at national laboratories, universities, and in industry to investigate various different scientific challenges. These include studying protein folding to develop disease treatments and prevention; climate change modeling to improve scientific prediction; and developing new renewable energy sources and simulating combustion chemistry to design more efficient energy systems that cause less pollution.
Leading the world in high-performance computing gives a country enormous competitive advantages across a broad range of sectors. These include advantages in national defense, energy, medicine, finance, environment, product development, and in manufacturing. This is the first time the United States has held the top spot in two and a half years.
Listed below are the top four US-made supercomputers:
“Sequoia, first place: Clocking in at 16.32 sustained petaflops (quadrillion floating point operations per second), the number one ranking Sequoia was built for NNSA by IBM. With its 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 NNSA’s Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) program for stewardship of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, a joint effort from LLNL, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories.”
“Mira, third place: Mira, the petascale IBM Blue Gene/Q system installed at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility at Argonne National Laboratory, is a 10-petaflops machine capable of carrying out 10 quadrillion calculations per second. The ALCF is committed to delivering 768 million core hours on Mira in 2013 based on a production schedule starting October 1, 2013—though it is highly likely that Mira will reach production status much sooner.”
“Jaguar, sixth place: With a peak speed of 3.3 petaflops (over three thousand trillion calculations per second), “Jaguar,” a Cray XK6 supercomputer located at Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, was the world’s fastest supercomputer for unclassified research 2.5 years ago. Capable of simulating physical systems with heretofore unfeasible speed and accuracy—from the explosions of stars to the building blocks of matter—Jaguar has led OLCF and the world into the era of petascale computing and beyond. It is currently being upgraded into Titan, a machine with an expected peak performance of 20 petaflops.”
“Cielo, fifteenth place: With a peak speed of 1.37 petaflops, Cielo is used by scientists at three national laboratories: Los Alamos (LANL), Sandia (SNL), and Lawrence Livermore (LLNL), to solve our nation’s most demanding stockpile stewardship problems; that is, the large-scale application problems at the edge of our understanding of weapon physics. This fully functional, petascale system serves a diverse scientific and engineering workload. Cielo provides a robust code development and production environment scaled to meet or exceed the workload requirements.”
Image Credits: Argonne National Laboratory, NNSA
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