Computer scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have set a high-performance computing speed record that opens the way to the scientific exploration of complex planetary-scale systems.
In a paper to be published shortly, the joint team will announce a record-breaking simulation speed of 504 billion events per second on LLNL’s Sequoia Blue Gene/Q supercomputer, dwarfing the previous record set in 2009 of 12.2 billion events per second.
Constructed by IBM, the 120-rack Sequoia supercomputer has a peak performance of 25 petaflops per second and is the second fastest supercomputer in the world, with a total speed and capacity equivalent to about one million desktop PCs. A petaflop is a quadrillion floating point operations per second.
In addition to breaking the record for computing speed, the research team set a record for the most highly parallel 'discrete event simulation', with 7.86 million simultaneous tasks using 1.97 million cores. Discrete event simulations are used to model irregular systems with behaviour that cannot be described by equations, such as communication networks, traffic flows, economic and ecological models, military combat scenarios, and many other complex systems.