IBM’s Sequoia Crowned King of Supercomputers

With more than 16 petaflops it soundly beats previous champion

2 min read

Samuel K. Moore is IEEE Spectrum’s semiconductor editor.

IBM’s Sequoia Crowned King of Supercomputers

The Sequoia supercomputer a system built by IBM for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in California, is the now the most powerful supercomputer on earth, according to rankings released today. It led the list, which ranks the worlds supercomputers according to a standard software benchmark, delivering 16.32 petaflops (a thousand trillion [<?] floating point operations per second) using 1 572 864 processor cores. It marks the first time since November 2009 that a U.S. supercomputer has topped the charts.

The IBM machine made use of the company’s BlueGene/Q computing system, which features 18-core processors based on the PowerPC architecture. Overall, IBM systems had a good showing, accounting for 47.5 percent of the computing power in the top 500 list, easily outpacing it’s next nearest competitor Hewlett Packard.

Sequoia’s nearest competitor, Fujitsu’s K computer, has topped the charts during 2011. It managed 10.51 petaflops using 705 024 cores. It was followed by a U.S. system—the Mira supercomputer, another IBM machine, that pulled 8.1 petaflops with 786 432 cores.

European computers had a good showing, with two German machines and the first Italian top 10 system on the list, as well as France grabbing the number 9 spot with it’s homebrew Bull supercomputer.

Meanwhile, China’s Tianhe-1A took number five, and the Nebulae system, in Shenzhen, came in at number 10.


Rank Site Computer
United States
Sequoia - BlueGene/Q, Power BQC 16C 1.60 GHz, Custom
2RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science (AICS)
K computer, SPARC64 VIIIfx 2.0GHz, Tofu interconnect
3DOE/SC/Argonne National Laboratory
United States
Mira - BlueGene/Q, Power BQC 16C 1.60GHz, Custom
4Leibniz Rechenzentrum
SuperMUC - iDataPlex DX360M4, Xeon E5-2680 8C 2.70GHz, Infiniband FDR
5National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin
Tianhe-1A - NUDT YH MPP, Xeon X5670 6C 2.93 GHz, NVIDIA 2050
6DOE/SC/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
United States
Jaguar - Cray XK6, Opteron 6274 16C 2.200GHz, Cray Gemini interconnect, NVIDIA 2090
Cray Inc.
Fermi - BlueGene/Q, Power BQC 16C 1.60GHz, Custom
8Forschungszentrum Juelich (FZJ)
JuQUEEN - BlueGene/Q, Power BQC 16C 1.60GHz, Custom
Curie thin nodes - Bullx B510, Xeon E5-2680 8C 2.700GHz, Infiniband QDR
10National Supercomputing Centre in Shenzhen (NSCS)
Nebulae - Dawning TC3600 Blade System, Xeon X5650 6C 2.66GHz, Infiniband QDR, NVIDIA 2050


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