At the Energy Department’s National Labs, big science requires big resources, and supercomputers are no exception. Twice a year, scientists issue the list of the top 500 fastest supercomputers in the world. In the most recent ranking, released just last week, the Energy Department’s National Labs were recognized for having 26 of the top 500 fastest supercomputers in the world, including four in the top 10.
At number 2 on the Top 500 list is Oak Ridge National Lab’s Titan. With a peak theoretical performance of roughly 27 petaflops — that’s 27 quadrillion calculations per second — Titan is the fastest of the Energy Department’s supercomputers. Recently, Titan has been used to simulate earthquake physics for safer building design, superconductors for better power transmission, the freezing of water for better wind turbine blade design and supernovae for a greater understanding of our universe.
With a peak theoretical performance of about 20 petaflops, Livermore Lab’s Sequoia is ranked as the third fastest supercomputer in the world. Sequoia is used for research to ensure the safety and reliability of the nation’s nuclear stockpile, such as simulating the properties of materials at extreme pressures and temperatures.
Coming in at number 5 is Argonne National Lab’s Mira. With a peak theoretical performance of just over 10 petaflops, Mira has recently supported plasma simulations for fusion energy research, water simulations for research into corrosion (rust) and calculations that will improve our understanding of subatomic particles. In addition to being one of the fastest computers in the world, Mira is also among the most energy efficient.
Livermore Lab’s Vulcan is the ninth fastest supercomputer in the world, with a peak theoretical performance of just over five petaflops. Vulcan supports collaborative research with U.S. industry that boosts American competitiveness in the global marketplace and accelerates advances in science and technology, such as recent research to increase the efficiency of auto and jet engines.