Latest supercomputer runs Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)

On Oct. 26, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) — part of the Department of Energy — unveiled the latest supercomputer. It’s named Sierra and is now the third-fastest supercomputer in the world.

Sierra runs at 125 petaflops (peak performance) and will primarily be used by the NNSA for modeling and simulations as part of its core mission of ensuring the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S.’s nuclear stockpile. It will be used by three separate nuclear security labs — Lawrence Livermore National Labs, Sandia National Laboratories, and Los Alamos National Laboratory. And it’s running none other than Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

Sierra is also NNSA’s first large-scale heterogenous system, referring to the fact that the system uses both CPUs and GPUs to accomplish its processing tasks.

Sierra is the third-fastest supercomputer, according to the latest TOP500 list, and is expected to be six to 10 times more capable than LLNL’s 20 petaflop Sequoia.

Each node in the system incorporates both IBM CPUs and Nvidia graphical processing units (GPUs). Designed for modeling and simulations, it is expected to start its use as a production system early in 2019.

According to John Kelly, senior vice president, Cognitive Solutions and IBM Research. “IBM’s decades-long partnership with LLNL has allowed us to build Sierra from the ground up with the unique design and architecture needed for applying AI to massive data sets. The tremendous insights researchers are seeing will only accelerate high performance computing for research and business.”

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