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UK Atomic Weapons Establishment readies Shasta supercomputer

Written by Thu 7 Nov 2019

Vulcan to carry out nuclear stockpile simulations

The UK Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) has selected Cray’s Shasta supercomputer to power the organisation’s nuclear simulations and other science projects supporting UK nuclear deterrence.

The seven petaflop supercomputer is named Vulcan and fitted with AMD’s Epyc 7542 processors, Cray Slingshot interconnect and ClusterStor Lustre storage. 

AWE said Cray’s HPC beast was selected because of its ability to run mixed workloads and applications at a low total cost of ownership (TCO).

“High-performance computing is a critical aspect of AWE,” said Andy Herdman, head of HPC at AWE. “It underpins the vast majority of our science-based programs, and we’re continually looking for ways to enhance and support this important work. This is why we chose Shasta, for its unique and powerful features, as well as its ability to provide optimal TCO.”

Since the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was introduced in 1996, the UK and others have turned to supercomputers to verify the safety and reliability of their nuclear arsenals via sophisticated computational simulations. 

In 2017, AWE installed an IBM supercomputer fitted with Power8 processors to support Trident nuclear warheads. The world’s second fasted supercomputer Sierra started chomping nuclear weapons workloads earlier this year, and another, El Capitan, will soon get in on the act. The supercomputers boast 94.6 petaflops and 1.5 exaflops of power, respectively.

“We are incredibly proud to be chosen by AWE to support their important mission,” said Peter Ungaro, president and CEO at Cray. “Shasta will bring Exascale Era technologies to bear on AWE’s challenging modeling and simulation data-intensive workload and enable the convergence of AI and analytics into this same workload, on a single system.”

Written by Thu 7 Nov 2019


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