The World's Fastest Supercomputer Is American Again

Illustration for article titled The World's Fastest Supercomputer Is American Again

A computer built for the National Nuclear Security Administration by IBM has just been crowned the world's fastest supercomputer, according to the Top 500 Supercomputer list—stealing the lead back from Japan's Fujitsu-designed K computer.


The NNSA computer, called Sequoia, is based on IBM's Blue Gene/Q architecture and manages to reach 16.32 sustained petaflops— that's 16.32 quadrillion floating point operations per second. That blows away the K computer, which only—only!— manages 10.51 petaflops. IBM offers an alternative explanation of its performance, explaining that '"three billion people using a pocket calculator would have to perform one million operations per second to reach equivalent SuperMUC performance." Wow.

It's easy to understand when you consider Sequoia's specs: it houses 1.6 million cores with 1.6 petabytes of RAM. Still, it is the size of a room, filling 96 racks, and is ugly as hell—but then, some people prefer brains over beauty. [Top 500 via The Verge]

Image by NNSA


Myth of Echelon

When I read "Still, it is the size of a room" I instantly started thinking that, likely, one day our phones will be as powerful, probably more powerful, than that "supercomputer" and we will laugh that it took a computer the size of a room to generate that much processing power.

Sounds ludicrous, sure, but the very same idea was considered ludicrous back in the olden days too.