Last month saw the unveiling of a new supercomputer, called Blue Mountain, capable of calculating in the range of 3 trillion operations per second. Located at the Los Alamos (N.M.) National Laboratory, the machine consists of 48 commercially available Silicon Graphics Cray Origin2000 computers yoked together. This supercomputer can handle enormous amounts of data, run detailed simulations, and create sophisticated graphics.
At the same time, an advanced computer named Blue Pacific began operating at the Lawrence Livermore (Calif.) National Laboratory (LLNL). Built by IBM, the machine operates at a peak speed of about 3.9 trillion calculations per second. Researchers have already used the computer to model the molecular behavior of explosives, simulate the trajectories of neutrons generated during laser-induced nuclear fusion, perform quantum-chemistry calculations, and study three-dimensional turbulent mixing in a supernova.
Both supercomputers are products of the Department of Energy's Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative. This effort is a key element in the development of methods to assess the safety and reliability of the nation's aging arsenal of nuclear weapons without underground nuclear testing (SN: 10/19/96, p. 254). The installation of a supercomputer at the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., in 1997 represented the first step in that effort (SN: 1/4/97, p. 7; 7/5/97, p. 5).
Earlier this year, the Energy Department announced plans for pushing computer technology by the year 2004 to speeds of 100 trillion calculations per second. In one step toward that goal, IBM has a contract to develop a computer for LLNL capable of operating at 10 trillion operations per second. The, machine will use the same technology as did Deep Blue, the chess computer that triumphed over world chess champion Garry Kasparov (SN: 5/17/97, p. 300).
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|Title Annotation:||Department of Energy develops 2 new supercomputers|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Dec 12, 1998|
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