National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced that a supercomputer
called Sequoia at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) was ranked the
world’s most powerful computing system. Clocking in at 16.32 sustained
petaflops (quadrillion floating point operations per second), Sequoia earned
the No. 1 ranking on the industry standard Top500 list of the world’s fastest
supercomputers released Monday, June 18, 2012, at the International Supercomputing
Conference (ISC12) in Hamburg, Germany. Sequoia was built for NNSA by IBM.
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.
platforms like Sequoia help the United
States keep its nuclear stockpile safe,
secure and effective without the need for underground testing,” NNSA
Administrator Thomas D’Agostino said. “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
will provide a more complete understanding of weapons performance, notably
hydrodynamics and properties of materials at extreme pressures and
temperatures. In particular, the system will enable suites of highly resolved
uncertainty quantification calculations to support the effort to extend the
life of aging weapons systems; what we call a life extension program
(LEP),” said Bob Meisner, NNSA director of the ASC program.
quantification, or “UQ,” is the quantitative characterization and
reduction of uncertainty in computer applications through running very large
suites of calculations to characterize the effects of minor differences in the
systems. Sources of uncertainty are rife in the natural sciences and
engineering fields. UQ uses statistical methods to determine likely outcomes.
machine will be an important tool used to support stockpile life extension
programs, including the B61 and the W78. By reducing the time required for
these studies, total costs also are reduced. In addition, the machine is
expected to enhance NNSA’s ability to sustain the stockpile by resolving any
significant findings in weapons systems, bringing greater power to the annual
assessment of the stockpile, and anticipating and avoiding future problems that
inevitably result from aging. All of this helps to ensure that the nation will
never have to return to nuclear testing.
such as Sequoia have allowed the United States to have confidence in
its nuclear weapons stockpile over the 20 years since nuclear testing ended in
1992. The insight that comes from supercomputing simulations also is vital to
addressing nonproliferation and counterterrorism issues as well as informing
other national security decisions such as nuclear weapon policy and treaty
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.”
NNSA/LLNL/IBM partnership has produced six HPC systems that have been ranked
among the world’s most powerful computers including: The Accelerated Strategic
Computing Initiative (ASCI) Blue Pacific; ASCI White; the Advanced Simulation
and Computing (ASC) Purple; Blue Gene/L; Blue Gene/P; and Blue Gene/Q, Sequoia.
ASCI White, Blue Gene/L and now Sequoia all attained a No. 1 ranking on the
is primarily water cooled and consists of 96 racks; 98,304 compute nodes; 1.6
million cores; and 1.6 petabytes of memory. Though orders of magnitude more
powerful than such predecessor systems as ASC Purple and Blue Gene/L, Sequoia
will be roughly 90 times more power efficient than Purple and about eight times
more than BG/L relative to the peak speeds of these systems.