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Two NNSA supercomputers among top 10 most powerful

NNSA's Cielo

The agency in charge of the security and stability of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile has two of the 10 most powerful computers in the world, according to a list compiled by university researchers.

The National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Cielo, Roadrunner Supercomputers were ranked in the top 10 of the TOP 500 List of the world’s most powerful supercomputers compiled by Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim, Germany; Erich Strohmaier and Horst Simon of NERSC/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Both of the computers are located at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) -- Cielo is ranked number six on the list and Roadrunner is ranked number 10. Five other supercomputers housed at NNSA sites are ranked in top 26 of the TOP500 list, said NNSA.

The computers operate as part of the agency’s Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) Campaign where they provide NNSA with leading edge, high-end simulation capabilities. The ASC program helps the agency meet nuclear weapons assessment and certification requirements including: weapon codes, weapon science, computing platforms, and supporting infrastructure. It provides modeling on complex tasks and simulations that are central to U.S. national security. While the simulations performed by the computers provide a computational surrogate for nuclear testing, the agency said they also play an important role in supporting nonproliferation efforts, emergency response, and nuclear forensics.

“The exceptional computing power of Cielo and Roadrunner supercomputers is critical to ensure the safety, security, and effectiveness of the nuclear stockpile while maintaining the moratorium on underground nuclear explosive testing,” said Don Cook, NNSA’s Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs.

Cielo, a petascale resource for conducting NNSA weapons simulations in the 2011-2015 timeframe, can achieve more than one quadrillion floating point operations per second, said the agency. Earlier this year, the Cielo system was upgraded from 1.03 petaflops (72 cabinets) to 1.37 petaflops (96 cabinets), it said. Cielo is operated by the New Mexico Alliance for Computing at Extreme Scale (ACES), a collaboration between LANL and Sandia National Laboratories.

Roadrunner has a peak performance of 1.38 petaflops and was the first supercomputer in the world to perform at a sustained petaflops rate on a scientific calculation, according to agency. Roadrunner has a unique architecture designed to explore new computing technology, and is an important stepping stone to even larger systems in the future.

The lists’ top 26, said NNSA, include number 15: The Appro Xtreme-X, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL); number 17: BlueGene/Q, LLNL; number 22: BlueGene/L, LLNL; number 24: Red Sky, Sandia/National Energy Laboratory; number 26: Dawn – Blue Gene/P, LLNL.


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