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Los Alamos leads the world in the development of high power computing

July 12, 2022
Installation of Trinity supercomputer

Installation of Trinity supercomputer

Supercomputer research at Los Alamos

Ever since John von Neumann commandeered time on the Aberdeen Proving Ground’s Eniac computer, Los Alamos has led the world in the development of high power computing. The first Cray supercomputer was test driven here (The one in our museum gallery is Serial #4), the first computer to run at petaflop speed, a quadrillion floating point operations per second, Roadrunner, was here, and we are currently putting Trinity through its paces.

Computing questions to ponder

How did the Manhattan Project effect computing?

Computers during WWII were predominantly women sitting at desks with some of the best office machinery of the day. Shortly after the war, the computing needs at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory were so daunting that developing electronic computers became a major priority.

Learn more about how computing and the Manhattan Project (pdf).

What does Los Alamos National Lab use its supercomputer for?

Stockpile stewardship, the assurance that America’s nuclear weapons are safe, secure, and reliable is the primary task for the Lab’s supercomputers. Researchers also use them to analyze problem in climate change, asteroid impact scenarios, epidemiology, and other highly complex topics.

Learn more about Lab supercomputers (pdf).

What is the Fermi Trolley, or Fermiac?

The Fermiac was a brilliant solution to a difficult problem that faced Enrico Fermi and others while they waited for early electronic computers to show useful results. It is an analog computer, which means that the physical device was designed to mimic the actions of the neutron motions it was designed to calculate.

Learn more about Fermiac (pdf).

Cool computing links