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IBM Computer Sets Speed Record

 Wall Street Journal (06/18/12) Don Clark

IBM’s Sequoia supercomputer system, based at the U.S. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), recently carried out 16 petaflops per second, breaking the world record set by Japan’s K Computer last year, and claiming first place in the latest TOP500 list, which was released today at the 2012 International Supercomputing Conference in Hamburg, Germany. The supercomputer field has long been dominated by U.S. technology, but recently international challengers have made great strides. “It’s good to see a little competition going back and forth,” says Cray CEO Peter Ungaro. “I fully expect Japan and China and Europe to strike back.” IBM’s Sequoia system is based on a design called Blue Gene/Q, which uses chips the company designed to boost performance while saving energy. Each chip has 16 processors and is based on a technology called Power that has been used in the company’s servers for many years. Supercomputers based on IBM’s Blue Gene/Q design took four of the top 10 spots on the latest TOP500 list. LLNL researchers plan to use Sequoia to improve simulations used to judge the effectiveness and safety of nuclear weapons.

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