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For the first time in two years the United States can claim ownership to the worlds’ fastest supercomputer.

Created by IBM and named Sequoia, it has overtaken Japan’s K Computer, made by Fujitsu. Sequoia has specifically been created to carry out simulations to help extend the life of aging nuclear weapons, avoiding the need for real-world underground tests.

The computers were ranked according to a test known as the Linpack Benchmark, which gives each computer a petaflop/s score (quadrillion floating-point operations per second). Sequoia tested at 16.32 petaflop/s compared to K Computer’s 10.51 petaflop/s.

To make this figure more understandable – IBM have said that Sequoia is capable of calculating in one hour what 6.7 billion people using hand calculators would take 320 years working nonstop.

The US now has three supercomputers in the Top 10. Six months ago it had five. China and Germany both have two, while Japan, France and Italy have one. IBM however, are responsible for five of the 10 spots.

Sequoia is 1.55 times faster than the Fujitsu model and uses over 1.5 million processor cores.

The first computer to take the top position on the list was CM-5/1024 in 1993, designed by Thinking Machines.

Picture of first supercomputer on Top 500 Thinking Machines back in 1993…

Sequoia is 273,930 times faster. A calculation that took three full days to compute on Thinking Machines in 1993 can now be done in less than a second on Sequoia.


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