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.