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Sequoia branches out into weapons testing

The US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has announced that its Sequoia supercomputer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has completed its transition to classified computing in support of the Stockpile Stewardship Program, which helps the United States ensure the safety, security and effectiveness of its ageing nuclear weapons stockpile without the use of underground testing.

The 20-petaflop IBM BlueGene/Q system is now dedicated exclusively to NNSA’s Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) program. ASC is a tri-lab effort drawing on the computational engineering and scientific computing expertise resident at Los Alamos, Sandia and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories.

'The success of early science runs on Sequoia have prepared the system to take on the complex calculations necessary to continue certifying the nation’s ageing nuclear stockpile,' said NNSA assistant deputy administrator for Stockpile Stewardship, Chris Deeney.

'Sequoia’s mammoth computing power will provide scientists and engineers with a more complete understanding of weapons’ performance, notably hydrodynamics and the properties of materials at extreme pressures and temperatures. These capabilities provide confidence in the US deterrent as it is reduced under treaty agreements and represent the nation’s continued leadership in high-performance computing.'

Delivered and deployed in early 2012, the 96-rack Sequoia machine not only took the No. 1 ranking on the June 2012 Top500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers; it was also rated as the world’s most energy efficient system and earned top honours on the Graph500 list for its ability to solve Big Data problems.

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