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Trinity and the new supercomputer frontier

Future supercomputers will improve assessment of the nuclear stockpile
March 25, 2013
Charlie McMillan, Director, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Charlie McMillan, Director, Los Alamos National Laboratory

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I hope this issue of National Security Science leaves you with a better understanding of why our supercomputing capabilities must continue to grow.

Charlie McMillan announces future of supercomputing for nuclear stockpile stewardship

SUMMARY

  • With the new Trinity supercomputer, our goal is to provide the supercomputing power for new high-resolution 3D simulations of nuclear weapons.
  • This will allow us to better assess the health of the weapons in the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

This year, the Laboratory is celebrating its 70th anniversary, and this issue’s principal topic—advanced supercomputing—is one that is dear to my heart: not only can today’s supercomputers trace their origins back to computers used in the Manhattan Project, but I was privileged to work with colleagues in the early 1990s on the formation of the Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI) program.

Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative launched the modern generation of supercomputers; it was a key component of America’s plan to move from reliance on full-scale underground nuclear tests to much more sophisticated computer-based simulations of full-scale weapon detonations.

When we at ASCI first estimated what we would need by now in high-performance computing, we underestimated. In my view, we must continue to advance the power and resolution of our computers to do our mission. The ongoing weapon life-extension programs and our annual assessment of the deterrent depend on it.

This means a new frontier in supercomputing, one we are calling Trinity.


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