IBM and the US government are planning to develop the most powerful supercomputer ever assembled.
The Sequioa system will be able to log performance speeds of up to 20 petaflops, and will be housed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in a series of 96 racks.
Sequoia will contain more than 1.6 million processors, although IBM has not disclosed the number of cores on each chip. The machine will also sport some 1.6TB of memory.
The LLNL initially plans to use the system for maintaining nuclear weapons and simulating test results. It is currently scheduled to go online in early 2012.
IBM plans later this year to begin deployment of Dawn, a 500-teraflop computer which will eventually serve as the delivery system for Sequoia operations. Both systems will be constructed at IBM's BlueGene facilities in Minnesota.
Sequoia looks likely to smash the performance mark held by today's most powerful system, the IBM RoadRunner in Los Alamos, which runs at 1.105 petaflops. Roadrunner is one of only two systems capable of breaking the petaflop barrier.
IBM estimates that Sequoia's 20-petaflop computing power will excel the combined systems of every machine on the Top 500 supercomputer rankings.
Big Blue also said that the system could have other, more peaceful, uses than nuclear testing. Sequoia could be used to model weather predictions up to 40 times faster than current systems, or deliver a 50-fold increase in the speeds at which earthquake simulations could be modelled.
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