U.S. government taps Cray to build supercomputer to manage nuclear weapons
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has turned to Cray for a supercomputer that will be used for managing nuclear weapons. Called Trinity, the supercomputer is expected to be one of the world's fastest.
In a deal worth $174 million, Cray is being tapped by the US government to create a supercomputer that will let the NNSA manage the country's stockpile of nuclear weapons without resorting to underground testing. When it's built, Trinity will aid the NNSA in keeping the stockpiles safe, secure, and reliable possibly through virtual simulations to test the performance of the weapons.
Virtual simulation is necessary because it takes away underground testing without affecting the NNSA's ability to understand how nuclear weapons age and how newly developed weapons will work. It is not clear, however, if Trinity will take part in managing weapons when a nuclear conflict arises.
Trinity will be different from the usual high-performance computers used by internet companies such as Facebook and Google because it will be vertically integrated. Internet companies typically parallel processing which breaks computing jobs into small bits to be farmed into multiple commodity servers at the same time.
"For certain applications, such as modeling, simulation and certain types of analytics, a vertically integrated system works best. That's because those applications often rely on sequential calculations that must be completed in a certain order," explains Peter Ungaro, Cray CEO.
The world's fastest computer at the moment is China's Tianhe-2 located in the National University of Defense Technology. Tianhe-2 is capable of 33.86 petaflops at peak performance. The world's second fastest is US' Titan which the Department of Energy uses at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Made by Cray, Titan peaks at 17.59 petaflops. It has not been released how fast Trinity will be once it is made but it is planned to take the top spot for the world's fastest.
As part of the NNSA Advanced Simulation and Computing Program, Trinity will entail cooperation between the Los Alamos National Laboratory's New Mexico Alliance for Computing at Extreme Scale and the Sandia National Laboratories.
Trinity is scheduled to be delivered mid-2015. It will be at least eight times better compared to Cielo, the current supercomputer that the NNSA uses in Los Alamos.