Skip to main content

IBM Sequoia to Blaze Past Other Supercomputers

There is a new speed demon in the supercomputer circuit.

IBM has revealed that its next supercomputer will be delivered to the U.S. government sometime in 2012. Dubbed "Sequoia," the new machine will be based on IBM's 45-nanometer PowerPC processors, with each processor containing 16 cores. The Sequoia will have over 4000 processors per rack (4096), and up to 1.6 million cores total. 

According to EETimes, Sequoia deal with the government is two fold. First, IBM will deliver a BlueGene/P supercomputer to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California. The BlueGene/P is a 65nm PowerPC-based system that can perform at over one Petaflops (or one quadrillion floating point operations per second). While that is certainly nothing to sneeze at, the Sequoia can do much, much more. "The Sequoia system will be 15 times faster than BlueGene/P," said IBM's Herb Schultz, "with roughly the same footprint and a modest increase in power consumption."

While the BlueGene/P will be delivered sometime this April, the Sequoia will not arrive at the government facility until sometime in 2012. The 20 Teraflops speedster will have 1.6 Petabytes (note: 1 Petabyte = over one million gigabytes), connected to its 1.6 million cores. Beyond that, the details are scarce.

So what will the Sequoia be doing? Plotting world domination? Tracking down alien life forms? Its primary purpose will be to calculate nuclear explosions, along with analyzing the entire U.S. nuclear stockpile. The Sequoia was one of four bids considered by the National Nuclear Security Administration and the U.S. Dept. of Energy. "These powerful machines will provide NNSA with the capabilities needed to resolve time-urgent and complex scientific problems, ensuring the viability of the nation's nuclear deterrent into the future," said NNSA administrator Thomas D'Agostino. "This endeavor will also help maintain U.S. leadership in high performance computing and promote scientific discovery."

The Petaflop barrier was originally broken in June of 2008, when IBM announced that its Roadrunner supercomputer would be able to consistently calculate at such a high level. With the Sequoia topping out at around 20Tflops, the bar has been raised tremendously in the span of only seven months.

Analyzing nuclear weapons is all well and good, but we're hoping the scientists in Livermore try running Crysis on this bad boy during their downtime.

  • StupidRabbit
    Looks like the NNSA will be playing "Global Thermonuclear War"...
    Reply
  • leo2kp
    I don't think Crysis will work on that thing. It only uses 2 or 4 cores. Wouldn't run any better, if not worse, than a high-end gaming rig IMO.
    Reply
  • Shadow703793
    1. Why not use Cell and GPUs fore more acceleration.

    2. Why PowerPC CPUs? Cause of the already written code for PPC?
    Reply
  • curnel_D
    Shadow7037931. Why not use Cell and GPUs fore more acceleration.2. Why PowerPC CPUs? Cause of the already written code for PPC?For the poeple writing the code, they're probably more experienced with writing unix based code for ppc instead of x86. Just a guess.
    Reply
  • daBliggah
    The 20 Teraflops speedster will ...

    Shouldn't that read "The 20 Petaflops speedster? Otherwise it would be 1000 times slower than the BlueGene/P at LLNL.

    Reply
  • daskrabbe
    leo2kpI don't think Crysis will work on that thing. It only uses 2 or 4 cores. Wouldn't run any better, if not worse, than a high-end gaming rig IMO.
    I'm pretty sure the graphics use more than 4 pipelines.
    Reply
  • Pei-chen
    Hmm, 2012. Maybe the existence of this super fast PC is what's going to cause the mass extinction on Earth.
    Reply
  • FlayerSlayer
    "With the Sequoia topping out at around 20Tflops, the bar has been raised tremendously in the span of only seven months."

    Don't you mean 20 Pflops? And 7 months from the CREATION of a 1 PFLOPS machine to the DESIGN of the 20 PFLOPS machine, it will be 4 years between their creation.
    Reply
  • Tindytim
    leo2kpI don't think Crysis will work on that thing. It only uses 2 or 4 cores. Wouldn't run any better, if not worse, than a high-end gaming rig IMO.It wouldn't work, but it has nothing to do with cores. It's PowerPC, not x86. Unless they got there hands on the source, or Crytek decided to releases it specifically for that system, it's not going to work.

    Shadow7037931. Why not use Cell and GPUs fore more acceleration.2. Why PowerPC CPUs? Cause of the already written code for PPC?You do know that the Cell is a PowerPC based processor? And they don't need GPUs, this isn't going to do graphical processing. It's for number crunching, not HD video, or gaming.
    Reply
  • AbhiNambiar
    Maybe the Buddhists in Tibet would like to borrow it for a couple days, perhaps? (reference - Arthur C. Clarke, The Nine Billion Names of God)
    Reply