The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today 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 number one ranking on the industry standard TOP500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers released Monday, June 18, at the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC12) in Hamburg, Germany. Sequoia was built for NNSA by IBM.
A 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.
“Computing platforms like Sequoia help the United States keep its nuclear stockpile safe, secure, and effective without the need for underground testing,” said NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino. “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.”
“Sequoia 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.
Uncertainty 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. UQ uses statistical methods to determine likely outcomes.
The 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 are also reduced. In addition, the machine is expected toenhance 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 explosive testing.
The 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 number one ranking on the TOP500 list. These videos explain a little more about how NNSA uses supercomputers to maintain the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile without the need for underground testing:
TOP 500 List
Sequoia is also one of the most energy efficient systems on the list, which will be released Monday, June 18, at the 2012 International Supercomputing Conference in Hamburg, Germany. This will mark the 39th edition of the list, which is compiled twice each year.
Complete information on the trends indicated by the latest list, as well as the complete list, can be found on the TOP500 website.
On the latest list, Fujitsu’s “K Computer” installed at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS) in Kobe, Japan, is now the No. 2 system with 10.51 Pflop/s on the Linpack benchmark using 705,024 SPARC64 processing cores. The K Computer held the No. 1 spot on the previous two lists.
The new Mira supercomputer, an IBM BlueGene/Q system at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, debuted at No. 3, with 8.15 petaflop/s on the Linpack benchmark using 786,432 cores. The other U.S. system 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 clocks in at No. 6.
The newest list also marks a return of European systems in force. The most powerful system in Europe and No.4 on the List is SuperMUC, an IBM iDataplex system installed at Leibniz Rechenzentrum in Germany. Another German machine, the JuQUEEN BlueGene/Q at Forschungszentrum Juelich, is No. 8.
Italy makes its debut in the Top 10 with an IBM BlueGene/Q system installed at CINECA. The system is at No. 7 on the list with 1.72 Pflop/s performance. In all, four of the top 10 supercomputers are IBM BlueGene/Q systems. France occupies the No. 9 spot with a homegrown Bull supercomputer.
China, which briefly took the No. 1 and No.3 spots in November 2010, has two systems in the Top 10, with Tianhe-1Aat the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin in No. 5 and Nebulae at the National Supercomputing Centre in Shenzhen No. 10.
Total performance of all the systems on the list has increased considerably since November 2011, reaching 123.4 Pflop/s. The combined performance of the last list was 74.2 Pflop/s. In all, 20 of the supercomputers on the newest list reached performance levels of 1 Pflop/s or more. The No. 500 machine on the list notched a performance level of 60.8 teraflop/s, which was enough to reach No. 332 just seven months ago.
A look at processors
A total of 372 systems (74.4 percent) are now using Intel processors, down from 384 systems (76.8 percent) on the last list. Intel is now followed by the AMD Opteron family with 63 systems (12.6 percent), same as in the in the previous list. The share of IBM Power processors has increased from 49 to 58 systems (11.6 percent).
58 systems use accelerators or co-processors (up from 39 six months ago), 53 of these use NVIDIA chips, two use Cell processors, two use ATI Radeon and there is one new system with Intel MIC technology.
The top vendors
IBM kept its lead in systems and has now 213 systems (42.6 percent) compared to HP with 138 systems (27.6 percent). HP is slightly down from 141 systems (28.2 percent) seven months ago, compared to IBM with 223 systems (44.6 percent). In the system category, Cray, Appro, SGI and Bull follow with 5.4 percent, 3.6 percent, 3.2 percent, and 3.2 percent respectively.
IBM remains the clear leader in the TOP500 list in performance and considerably increased its share with 47.5 percent of installed total performance (up from 27.3 percent). HP is second with 10.2 percent down from 13.1 percent. Due to the impressive performance of the No. 1 K Computer, Fujitsu follows closely in the third spot with 9.9 percent, down from 14.7 percent. Cray follows in fourth place in this category with 8.9 percent, down from 14.3 percent.
Where are they now?
The U.S. is clearly the leading consumer of HPC systems with 253 of the 500 systems (down from 263). The European share (107 systems – up from 103) is still lower than the Asian share (121 systems – up from 118). Dominant countries in Asia are China with 68 systems (down from 74), Japan with 34 systems (up from 30). In Europe, UK, France, and Germany, are almost equal with 25, 22, and 20 respectively.