"Sierra," described by U.S. Department of Energy and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory officials as the world's third fastest supercomputer, will soon be providing the nation's three nuclear security labs with their best nuclear weapon simulations yet.
The massive supercomputer was unveiled last month at the Lawrence Livermore lab, and will be doing simulations supporting not only that lab, but also Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Its key mission will be to ensure the safety, security and effectiveness of the United States' nuclear stockpile.
"This machine represents a new approach to high-performance computing that will enable us to address and answer scientific questions previously beyond our reach," Lawrence Livermore director Bill Goldstein said in a statement. "This is a signal moment in Livermore's history, and a new milestone in our leadership in high-performance computing and simulation."
Sierra's peak performance capability is 125 quadrillion "floating-point" operations -- those that involve numbers that include decimal points -- per second. Such capabilities are especially important as these labs are charged with maintaining an aging nuclear stockpile, according to Mike Dunning, acting principal associate director of LLNL's weapons program.