Supercomputing to ensure viability of US nuclear deterrent

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The Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has signed a contract with IBM to supply supercomputing systems to its Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

'These powerful machines will provide NNSA with the capabilities needed to resolve time-urgent and complex scientific problems, ensuring the viability of the nation's nuclear deterrent into the future,' said NNSA administrator Thomas D'Agostino. 'This endeavour will also help maintain US leadership in high performance computing and promote scientific discovery.'

IBM will deliver two systems: Sequoia, a 20 Petaflop/s (quadrillion floating operations per second) system based on future BlueGene technology, to be deployed in 2012; and an initial delivery system called Dawn, a 500 Teraflop/s (trillion floating operations per second) BlueGene/P system, scheduled for delivery in the first quarter of 2009. Dawn will lay the applications foundation for multi-Petaflop/s computing on Sequoia.

The Sequoia systems will be focused on strengthening the foundations of predictive simulation through running very large suites of complex simulations called uncertainty quantification (UQ) studies. In addition, the machines will be used for weapons' science calculations necessary to build more accurate physical models. This work is a cornerstone of NNSA's Stockpile Stewardship programme to ensure the safety, security and reliability of the US nuclear weapons stockpile without underground testing.

Sequoia will have 1.6 Petabytes of memory, 96 racks, 98,304 compute nodes, and 1.6 million cores. Sequoia will be 160 times more power efficient than predecessor system ASC Purple and 17 times more than BlueGene/L.