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NNSA Dedicates National Security Computing Center at Sandia Labs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today dedicated the National Security Computing Center (NSCC) at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M.

The NSCC is a Department of Energy user facility for top-secret level applications that require high performance computing. Its unique capabilities will be applied to help solve pressing national security problems such as cyber defense, vulnerability assessments, informatics (network discovery), space systems threats and situational awareness. The system can also be used to provide high-fidelity, physical simulations and advanced imagery processing.

"The NSCC provides a first if its kind ability for the nation," said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino. "It is also one of the first visible steps in NNSA' s commitment to interagency partnerships and a glimpse of our future science, technology, and engineering enterprise. That fact that our supercomputing capabilities are being used for intelligence missions is also an important example of how our investment in nuclear security is providing the nation the tools to tackle broader national challenges."

The Red Storm supercomputing platform was built at Sandia National Laboratories as part of NNSA's stockpile stewardship program.  Listed last year as one of the top 15 fastest computers in the world, Red Storm is one of a suite of platforms across its national laboratories that NNSA's Office of Advanced Simulating and Computing (ASC) uses 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.NNSA and Sandia officials cut the red ribbon at the official dedication of the new National Security Computing Center at Sandia National Laboratories.

Red Storm proved itself in broadened applications when it was called into service to assist the Department of Defense in planning Operation Burnt Frost, the highly successful engagement to safely shoot down an errant U.S. satellite in 2008.  Use of this national asset was extended when the intelligence community recognized simulations at the extreme scales afforded by Red Storm could uniquely contribute to solving national security challenges. 

In January 2008, NNSA asked Sandia to consider turning one of its nuclear weapons resources into the NSCC. In May 2008, Sandia agreed to move forward with the conversion of Red Storm. In July 2009, the facility and associated resources became available for SCI use.

NNSA authorized Sandia to upgrade Red Storm to a 280 teraflop computing capacity and extend its operations for at least four to five more years. The Red Storm platform and facility are extensible, allowing them to accommodate future upgrades and improvements with minimal interruption.

Sandia National Labortories' extensive and successful track record of building and running cost-effective and robust high-performance computing systems in both classified and unclassified environments made it a logical choice to host the NSCC.  Red Storm affords the nation new opportunities to address national security challenges.

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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. Visit for more information.

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