Blue Gene/L officially commissioned for nuclear testing

The US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has officially commissioned the two new, next-generation Blue Gene/L supercomputers. The IBM machines will be housed at the organisation’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

The machine is part of a pair of super systems. The other, dubbed Purple, is a machine capable of 100 teraflops and also takes its place among the most powerful computers on Earth. Between them, the Purple and BlueGene/L systems can generate half a petaflop, or 1,000,000,000,000,000 operations per second. The machines will be used to run three-dimensional codes and simulate the nuclear explosions as an alternative to underground weapons testing which ceased 20 years ago.

The Blue Gene/L recently ran a record-setting materials science application at 101.5 teraflops sustained over seven hours on the machine’s 131,072 processors. The application involved the simulation of the cooling process in a molten actinide uranium system considered vital to monitor the continued state of US nuclear weapons.

NNSA Administrator Linton F. Brooks said that in more recent tests the BlueGene/L supercomputer set a new mind boggling world record of 280.6 teraflops per second. In June of this year, the Lawrence Livermore Blue Gene officially became the world’s fastest computer. However, the engineers have been busily adding computing capacity so that the performance of the machine has quadrupled in just 12 months.

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