IBM's Sequoia Is World's Fastest Supercomputer On TOP500 List

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For the first time since November 2009, a United States supercomputer holds the top spot on the TOP500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers.

According to TOP500, the number one supercomputer is Sequoia, the IBM BlueGene/Q system installed at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which achieved an impressive 16.32 petaflop/s on the Linpack benchmark using 1,572,864 cores.

For comparison, the second-ranked computer on the list, Fujitsu's "K Computer" at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science in Kobe, Japan, runs at 10.51 petaflops, and the No. 3 computer, another IBM system named Mira, located at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, runs at 8.15 petaflops.

Sequoia is one of the most energy efficient systems on the list. Sequoia’s water cooling system is almost 2.5 times more energy efficient than air cooling, and will save millions of dollars in energy costs.

In an InformationWeek article, Colin Parris, general manager of IBM Power Systems, explained that air cooling becomes less efficient as supercomputers increase in size. By using water as the coolant to extract heat from the processors, less space is needed between components and the need for air conditioning eases, he said. The energy savings as a result of the cooling system are a major benefit for Lawrence Livermore.

The TOP 500 list of supercomputers is compiled annually by the University of Mannheim, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. This will mark the 39th edition of the list, which is compiled twice each year.