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UK AWE awards new contract to Bull

Atos, the company behind European supercomputer developer Bull, has announced that it was awarded a contract to install a new system for the UK’s Atomic Weapons Establsishment (AWE).

The new system will feature a single Bull Sequana x1000 supercomputer with a theoretical peak performance of 4.3 Petaflops. The Bull Sequana system uses the Mellanox EDR interconnect and a Seagate Lustre storage appliance offering around 100 GB per second of I/O performance. The systems also use direct contact liquid cooling to increase compute density.

‘High performance computing is a critical aspect of AWE, underpinning the vast majority of our science- based program, so we’re continually looking for ways to enhance and support the work conducted,’ said Andy Herdman, head of high performance computing at AWE.

‘Following a successful competitive tendering process, Atos has been chosen as our digital partner to advance our high performance computing capabilities. AWE has had a successful relationship with Atos since 2010. We’re confident that with the purchase and eventual installation of the new Bull Sequana system it will enable us to quickly advance research and development so that we can continue to underwrite the safety and effectiveness of the Trident nuclear warhead in the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty era.’

 The UK Ministry of Defence has responsibility for the program and ownership of the AWE which is operated under contract by AWE Management Limited. AWE works under contract to the Ministry of Defence through a government-owned-contractor-operated arrangement (GOCO). In 2000, AWE Management Limited (AWE ML) was awarded the contract to operate the sites safely and securely as well as deliver a safe, effective and efficient nuclear warhead programme. AWE ML is formed of three shareholders: Jacobs Engineering Group, Lockheed Martin and Serco Group.

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty prohibits emission of nuclear yield and therefore AWE must continually develop methods to verify the safety and reliability of nuclear warheads through a science-based and computational program.

Pierre Barnabé, Chief Operating Officer, Big Data & Security at Atos commented: ‘Through our Bull brand Atos has provided several generations of supercomputers and data intensive systems and we welcome AWE’s choice to install the new Bull Sequana X1000 supercomputer. This will provide access to some of the most powerful supercomputing technology available enabling AWE to confidently undertake the complex digital modelling and simulation which will ensure the UK’s continued compliance with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.’

Andy Grant, Head of Big Data and HPC for Atos in the UK added: ‘Following our recent announcement that we will soon deliver a Bull Sequana system to the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Hartree Centre, the AWE system is the second recent large Bull Sequana supercomputer for Atos in the UK which will form a critical part of the national science infrastructure.’

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