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Home » Hacking News » Livermore Lab Unveils Supercomputer

Livermore Lab Unveils Supercomputer

by ivy on August 17th, 2001 After keeping the world's most powerful supercomputer to themselves for a year, government researchers showed off the $110 million wonder Wednesday and said it might help save the world from nuclear war.

With the ability to perform 12.3 trillion calculations a second, the supercomputer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory mainly will be used to simulate how the nation's aging nuclear weapons arsenal would function if launched.

Those simulations must be as precise as possible because the United States suspended underground nuclear tests in 1992.

Gen. John Gordon, the Department of Energy's under secretary for nuclear security, called the supercomputer the "key to the country's mission of maintaining the stockpile'' and assuring nuclear deterrence.

The supercomputer — known as Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative White, or ASCI White — has a mind-boggling amount of other uses, say researchers who use it.

ASCI White is roughly as powerful as 50,000 desktop computers. It can store the equivalent of 300 million books, or six Libraries of Congress.

It has 8,192 microprocessors, housed in a series of black refrigerator-sized boxes linked together by 83 miles of wiring in a room the size of two basketball courts.

A giant air-conditioning system that cools ASCI White requires three megawatts of electricity, enough for a small city.

ASCI White was designed for the government by IBM Corp., which delivered it to Livermore last year in 28 tractor-trailers. The mammoth computer is 1,000 times more powerful than Deep Blue, which defeated chess grand master Garry Kasparov in 1997.

The machine is networked to researchers at Livermore and the Sandia and Los Alamos national labs in New Mexico via an encrypted line. It went through months of testing and debugging before being dedicated Wednesday.

Tomas Diaz de le Rubia, a materials program leader at Livermore, marveled at how ASCI White has enabled his team to create three-dimensional models that can track the behavior of 1 billion atoms at once.

"It opens up a whole new way of studying how materials behave, how they perform under different conditions, how they age,'' he said. "It's beautiful.''

It's also just the beginning. The government says that to certify the nuclear arsenal with full confidence, it needs a supercomputer that is 10 times as powerful as ASCI White by 2004.

from: wwwnetdaily

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