The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced today that it now has the world’s most powerful computing system. Dubbed “Sequoia,” the computer clocked in at 16.32 sustained petaflops, earning it the top spot on the International Supercomputing Conference’s top 500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers. One petaflop represents a quadrillion floating point operations per second.
Sequoia was developed by IBM and resides at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The system is a 96-rack Blue Gene/Q system that will be used for simulation research. Specifically, Sequoia will be used for the NNSA’s nuclear stockpile simulations.
“Computing platforms like Sequoia help the United States keep its nuclear stockpile safe, secure and effective without the need for underground testing,” said Thomas D’Agostino, NNSA Administrator. “While Sequoia may be the fastest, the underlying computing capabilities it provides give us increased confidence in the nation’s nuclear deterrent as the weapons stockpile changes under treaty agreements, a critical part of President Obama’s nuclear security agenda. Sequoia also represents continued American leadership in high performance computing, key to the technology innovation that drives high-quality jobs and economic prosperity.”
The NNSA’s supercomputer simulation program is a stand-in for real-life nuclear testing. Sequoia will allow the NNSA to complete nuclear stockpile studies and the stockpile’s annual assessment in less time. It can also help simulate and anticipate future problems that might result from the aging stockpile.
“Sequoia is an exciting achievement for the POWER architecture, not just for its speed and energy efficiency, but also for the important and complex work it can support to safeguard the nation’s nuclear stockpile,” said Colin Parris, general manager IBM Power Systems. “With supercomputers capable of 16 sustained petaflops, our ability to affect strategic change in areas like life sciences, public safety, energy and transportation that make our world smarter is greater than ever. The improvements in affordability, performance, efficiency and size that Sequoia delivers will also enable a broader set of commercial customers to implement HPC for their competitive advantage.”
(Pictured above from left to right in front of Sequoia: Bruce Goodwin, principal associate director for WCI, Dona Crawford, associate director for Computation, Michael Browne, IBM, Kim Cupps, leader of the Livermore Computing Division, and Michel McCoy, head of LLNL’s Advanced Simulation and Computing program and deputy director for Computation.)