IBM’s Sequoia crushes all other supercomputers in new ranking

Step aside, Fujitsu K — there's a new king of the mountain, and its name is Sequoia. For the first time in three years, an American-built device has taken top spot in a ranking of the 500 most powerful supercomputers. Developed by IBM, Sequoia will be used to – get ready for the letdown – carry out simulations to help extend the life of aging nuclear weapons.

IBM's Sequoia, a member of the BlueGene/Q system, boasts an impressive 16.32 petaflop/s on the Linpack benchmark using 1,572,864 cores. It is 1.55 times faster than its closest rival, Japan's Fujitsu K Computer, and uses over 1.5 million processors – yes, you read that right: it has 1,572,864 cores just to be exact.

Looking at its power another way, Sequoia is capable of calculating 16 quadrillion calculations per second. To help understand that kind of power, the BBC said it can do in one hour what it would take 6.7 billion people using hand calculators over 320 years to complete working non-stop.

Sequoia, which resides at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is also more energy efficient, consuming 7.9 megawatts, as compared to K which uses 12.6 megawatts.

The TOP500 ranking is published every six months by German professor Hans Meuer and US-based Professor Jack Dongarra.

Finishing in third place is the new Mira supercomputer, an IBM BlueGene/Q system at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois (8.15 petaflop/s on the Linpack benchmark using 786,432 cores). The only other U.S. system to finish in the Top 10 is the upgraded Jaguar at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, which was the top U.S. system on the previous list and now ranked sixth.

Sequoia will be used to help the National Nuclear Security Administration simulate nuclear explosions down to the molecular scale, and potentially assist in such areas as climate modeling and studying the dynamic changes in a protein's shape.

Sources: TOP500 | BBC | Digital Trends. Image via IBM.