Sierra Supercomputer Speeds to TOP500 Number Two Spot
November 16, 2018
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) newest supercomputer,
rose to second place on the list of the world’s fastest computing
systems, TOP500 List representatives noted at the International
Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and
Analysis conference (SC18) in Dallas.
LLNL’s Sierra, an IBM/NVIDIA system developed for the National Nuclear
Security Administration (NNSA), reached 94.6 petaflops (quadrillion
floating-point operations per second) on the High Performance Linpack (HPL),
a benchmark test that TOP500 uses to determine a system’s speed. The
score, up from 71.6 in June, pushed Sierra past China’s Sunway
TaihuLight, a system developed by China’s National Research Center of
Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology (NRCPC).
Sierra, one of
the fastest supercomputers in the world, will serve the National Nuclear
Security Administration’s (NNSA) three nuclear security laboratories.
A total of five Department of Energy (DOE) supercomputers placed in the
top 10 of the 52nd edition of the TOP500 list. Oak Ridge National
Laboratory’s Summit widened its lead as the No. 1 system in the world,
improving its performance from 122.3 to 143.5 petaflops since the
previous list was announced in June. Sierra and Summit are both powered
by IBM Power9 CPUs and NVIDIA V100 GPUs.
"We are naturally very pleased to see this machine take the second
position, with the U.S. now holding the top two spots after a
substantial hiatus,” said Mark Anderson, director of the Office of
Advanced Simulation and Computing at NNSA. “Our partnership with DOE
Office of Science and Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been very
productive. Beyond this, our chief satisfaction comes from the
performance the machine is demonstrating on a number of key benchmarks
that point to its extremely broad utility for national security."
Sierra had placed third on June’s TOP500 list, running the benchmark on
a portion of the system. LLNL computer scientists explained the higher
ranking on the new list was due to a better understanding of the
hardware combined with extensive work done with IBM and NVIDIA to speed
are quite pleased with Sierra's position on the TOP500,” said Livermore
Computing’s Chief Technical Officer Bronis de Supinski. “More
importantly, the optimizations that supported the improved HPL
performance demonstrate how to use the full capacity of the memory
system effectively, which we expect to guide optimizations of our real
Accepted by the Lab in October, Sierra supports the NNSA’s core mission
of ensuring the safety, security and effectiveness of the nation’s
nuclear stockpile. It will go into production for classified work in
early 2019 with capabilities in high-resolution modeling and simulation
as well as machine learning.
Sierra wasn’t the lone LLNL system on the list. Its unclassified
companion system Lassen, built with the same architecture as Sierra but
at about one-sixth of Sierra’s size, debuted at No. 11 on the TOP500
List, one spot behind LLNL’s Sequoia at 15.4 petaflops. Sequoia, an IBM
BlueGene/Q supercomputer that was delivered to the Lab in 2011, achieved
17.2 petaflops on the benchmark.