US Leapfrogs Japan In Supercomputer Race

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe’s Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

The US is now home to the world’s most powerful computer, thanks to an IBM monster machine

For the first time in nearly three years a US supercomputer has been ranked the most powerful in the world.

IBM’s Sequoia system installed at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory was able to process 16.32 petaflop/s running 1,572,864 cores, according to the TOP500 rankings released today at the 2012 International Supercomputing Conference in Hamburg, Germany.

Sequoia was announced back in 2009, when IBM claimed the system would “provide smarter simulation and negate the need for real-world weapon testing.” It also said the supercomputer would be able to hit speeds above 20 petaflops/s.

Japan was home to the supercomputer crown for the last two rankings in 2011. Yet Fujitsu’s K Computer, which is located at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS) in Kobe, Japan was able to process 10.51 petaflop/s, meaning it was pushed down to second place.

America leading the way

The highest ranking debutant was another IBM machine – the Mira, which hit 8.15 petaflop/s. Italy had its first ever entry with another IBM system – the CINECA, which came in seventh.

China, which held the crown up until early 2011, had two systems in the top 10 – the same as Germany – compared to three in the US.

Since the last rankings in November 2011, there has been a considerable rise in overall performance of the systems, which hit 123.4 petaflop/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 message on the TOP500 website read.

The next stage for supercomputers is exascale computing, which Intel thinks will be ready for use by 2020.

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