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U.S. Energy Department OK’s plan to develop $600-million supercomputer system for Livermore Lab

Uploaded: Apr 15, 2018
U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry has agreed to plans to develop two new exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $600 million each.

Scheduled to be deployed at Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge National Laboratories in the 2021-2023 timeframe, the new supercomputers will be follow-on systems to the first U.S. exascale system authorized by Perry this past June.

That system is named Aurora and it is currently under development at Argonne National Laboratory west of Chicago and is scheduled to come online in 2021.

Livermore Lab spokesman Jeremy Thomas said this next generation system is code-named “El Capitan.”

“These new systems represent the next generation in supercomputing and will be critical tools both for our nation’s scientists and for U.S. industry,” Perry said. “They will help ensure America’s continued leadership in the vital area of high performance computing, which is an essential element of our national security, prosperity and competitiveness as a nation.”

Thomas said the El Capitan will be the National Nuclear Security Administration’s first exascale supercomputer, capable of at least a quintillion calculations per second, about 50 to 100 times greater performance than the current fastest U.S. supercomputers.

It will enable scientists to better simulate the complex processes involved in stockpile stewardship, medicine, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, energy, material design and the physics of the universe, more quickly and with higher definition, Thomas added.

Mark Anderson, program director of NNSA’s Advanced Simulation and Computing program, said: “The challenge we are facing is that nuclear security will demand far more powerful computers to support life extension programs planned for the next decade.”

He added: “As a consequence, at this time of technological disruption, we need to be focused on the three closely related foundational elements for success in HPC: next-generation nuclear weapons codes, next-generation platforms like El Capitan, and next-generation facilities able to support these platforms.”

Thomas said El Capitan will be the Lab’s next advanced technology system after Sierra, which is scheduled for acceptance later this year, and will enable breakthroughs in both science and industry through modeling and simulation, high-performance data analysis, and artificial intelligence and machine learning applications, according to DOE.

Thomas said Perry’s approval of plans to seek proposals to develop the new supercomputer systems marks the beginning of the second phase of the high-performance computing partnership between DOE’s Office of Science, NNSA and the multi-laboratory Collaboration of Oak Ridge, Argonne and Livermore (CORAL).

Under CORAL, the three laboratories work together on a common request for proposals to deliver systems to the laboratories, so if two laboratories select the same vendor, they can collaboratively fund technology development to maximize leverage and enhance the capabilities of the platforms to be delivered.

"We are excited by this opportunity to continue our successful collaboration with the Office of Science Leadership Computing Facilities," said Bronis de Supinski, chief technology officer of Livermore Computing. "Based on our industry interactions, we expect to receive several outstanding responses."

Thomas said the Livermore Lab, founded in 1952, provides solutions to the country’s most important national security challenges through innovative science, engineering and technology. The Lab is managed by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC for the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

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on Apr 17, 2018 at 11:18 am

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