Tuesday, February 03, 2009

IBM to send blazing fast supercomputer to Energy Department

IBM plans to announce on Tuesday that it will supply the world's fastest supercomputer to the U.S. Department of Energy in the next few years, according to numerous reports.

Not only will the machine, called Sequoia, be the fastest supercomputer to date, it will blow the current record-holder out of the water. IBM's Roadrunner, located at the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory, was the first system to reach 1.026 petaflops (a petaflop is equal to a quadrillion calculations per second; the "flops" stands for floating point operations per second). But only seven months after the Roadrunner took top honors on a twice-yearly list of the world's fastest supercomputers, IBM is announcing that its successor will outdo it by an order of magnitude. Sequoia will be able to work at a staggering 20 petaflops, the equivalent of the compute power of 2 million laptops according to Reuters.

IBM says it plans to deliver the Sequoia to the Energy Department for use at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The supercomputer will run simulations to test the soundness of the nation's stockpile of nuclear weaponry, according to the IDG News Service.

Like Roadrunner, IBM says Sequoia will be energy-efficient. It will draw 6 megawatts of power in a year, which is roughly what 500 American homes would use, according to Wired.

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