US Retakes Fastest Supercomputer Crown

IBM's Sequoia outperforms Japanese record holder
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2012 6:21 AM CDT
US Retakes Fastest Supercomputer Crown
Sequoia uses more than 1.5 million processors.   (IBM)

America can once again boast that it is home to the world's fastest supercomputer. IBM's Sequoia system knocked Japan's K Computer into second place after clocking in at a staggering 16.32 "petaflops"—that's 16 quadrillion calculations per second, reports the Wall Street Journal. The supercomputer—which takes up 96 racks, each bigger than a fridge, at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California—can compute in one hour what it would take everybody in the world 320 years working non-stop using hand calculators to compute, the BBC notes.

This is the first time an American computer has taken top spot since 2009, and Sequoia also won praise for energy efficiency: It consumes 7.9 megawatts compared to the K Computer's 12.6 megawatts. The Department of Energy will use Sequoia to run simulations designed to help extend the life of aging nuclear weapons, eliminating the need in these cases to run underground nuclear tests. Quips Engadget's Sean Buckley, "More computers, less explosions. We can't think of a better thing to do with 98,304 compute nodes, 1.6 million cores, and 1.6 petabytes of memory spread across 96 racks—can you?" (More IBM stories.)

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