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NNSA Supercomputers Among Fastest in the World

June 24, 2009

Three of top 10 systems on prestigious list backed by NNSA

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration congratulates its labs and Advanced Simulation and Computing program for earning three of the top 10 spots on the latest TOP500 supercomputer list, which was released yesterday.

The three computers in the top 10 were Roadrunner (#1, Los Alamos National Laboratory); BlueGene (#5, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory); and Dawn (#9, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory).

A total of seven NNSA supercomputers made the TOP500 list.

"These complex machines allow us to maintain the safety, security and reliability of our nuclear stockpile without nuclear testing," said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino. "They are a critical example of our investment in nuclear security making contributions to broader science and discovery. We want to congratulate the cadre of talented scientists and engineers in our labs whose work using these machines puts us on the cutting edge of national security."

NNSA uses its supercomputing capabilities through its Defense Programs Office of Advanced Simulating and Computing (ASC) to ensure the United States nuclear weapons stockpile continues to be safe, secure and reliable without nuclear testing.

As part of NNSA's stockpile stewardship program, ASC computers use models and simulations to understand and predict behaviors associated with aging weapons by, among other things, gauging various stages of a nuclear explosion. NNSA's national laboratories employ the supercomputers daily to answer some of the nation's most complex scientific and engineering questions.

In addition to their primary nuclear security function, NNSA supercomputers are used for a number of diverse scientific initiatives.

Roadrunner currently runs open science and engineering simulations including a simulation aiding HIV vaccine design. BlueGene has been used to predict the properties of metals under extreme temperature and pressure conditions. Dawn has been running simulations of laser effects related to NNSA's National Ignition Campaign (NIC).

Red Storm, which ranked 13th on the list and is housed at NNSA's Sandia National Laboratories, helped the U.S. Navy shoot down an errant satellite in February 2008.

The TOP500 list is compiled by Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim in Germany; Erich Strohmaier and Horst Simon of NERSC/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation's national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Media contact(s):
NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371