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A look at IBM's Sequoia - the world's fastest supercomputer (photos)

IBM's Sequoia supercomputer retakes the crown for the fastest supercomputer in the world.
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1 of 12 Andy Smith/ZDNet

At the 2012 International Supercomputing Conference, Germany, IBM's Sequoia was named the world's fastest supercomputer. Their Top 500 Supercomputer list is updated twice a year.

Sequoia is an IBM BlueGene/Q system which was installed at the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration at the Livermore National Laboratory. In the test, Sequoia 16.32 petaflop/s on the Linpack benchmark using 1,572,864 cores. Sequoia is 55% faster than the second fastest computer in the world, Japan's K and is more energy efficient.

For more read: Zack Whittaker's IBM supercomputer is world's fastest: Does it matter. and

Dan Kusnetsky's IBM supercomputer is world's fastest: It does matter

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Sequoia was built by IBM at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for theNational Nuclear Security Administration.

IBM placed 42.6 percent off the Top 500 Supercomputers. HP was second with 138 supercomputers for a 27.6 percent, and Cray was third with 26 supercomputers - 5.2 percent of those on the list.

Intel dominated the chip list with 70 percent using it Xeon processor. In celebration the chipmaker has released the production schedule for their Xeon family Many Integrated Cores Architecture (MIC) co-processor called Xeon Pi. It can reach 1 TeraFLOP performance from a single PCIe card.

Here's David Chernicoff's take on the new processor.

Credit: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

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How was this list determined?
The group used the Linpack Benchmark which is a "measure of a computer’s floating-point rate of execution. It is determined by running a computer program that solves a dense system of linear equations. Over the years the characteristics of the benchmark has changed a bit. In fact, there are three benchmarks included in the Linpack Benchmark report." Here's a list of FAQ's about the Linpack Benchmark.

This photo shows the 96 racks of the Sequoia system as they are being  installed - while integration is ongoing.

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A member from the IBM install team works on the ASC Sequoia computer. The supercomputer is used for nuclear research including how to prolong the life of older nuclear weapons.

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Prior to installation, extra supports were added before Sequoia's installation. The finished machine weighs about the same as 30 adult elephants.

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Kim Cupps, Livermore Computing Division Leader, and Dave Fox, System Administration Group Leader, show off the Sequoia.

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Here's another look at Blue Gene/Q racks.

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Japan's K computer held the title of "world's fastest" for a year until it was overtaken by IBM's Sequoia. Now, it's in second place. Here's a look inside.

K computer reached 10.51 Pflop/s on the Linpack benchmark using 705,024 SPARC64 processing cores.

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The new Mira supercomputer at the  Argonne National Laboratory ranked No. 3  on the Top 500 list. Its a new IBM/Blue Gene/Q system and hit 10.51 Pflop/s on the Linpack benchmark from 705,024 SPARC64 processing cores placed it third on the list.

Mira is used by from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies.

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Here's an inside look at Mira.

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SuperMUC, housed in at the Leibniz Supercomputing Center near Munich, Germany. contains155.000 cores and has a peak performance of 3 Petaflop/s. It's an IBM iDataplex system.

SuperMUC just began operations this month and is intended by be used  by all European researchers to expand the frontiers of science and engineering.

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Here is China top supercomputer which was built in 2010 and was the fastest supercomputer in November 2010. It is located at the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin.

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