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NNSA, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory decommissions ASC Purple

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has decommissioned Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) Program’s Purple, the first supercomputer capable of producing the reliable three-dimensional simulations of nuclear weapons performance critical to NNSA’s program to ensure the safety, security and effectiveness of the nuclear stockpile without having to conduct testing.
Purple represented the culmination of the Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative’s (ASCI) nearly 10-year quest to deploy a 100 teraFLOP/s (100 trillion floating point operations per second) system. Purple transformed ASCI from an initiative into today’s Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) program.

“The Purple machine was the icon of the Advanced Simulation and Computing Initiative kicked off in 1996 that was intended to demonstrate that science-based simulations could effectively underwrite the nation’s nuclear deterrent during a moratorium on underground nuclear explosive testing,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Don Cook. “The success of Purple reinforces our confidence that we are on the right path to realizing predictive simulations for particularly tough scientific questions.”

The capabilities Purple delivered represented the profound change high performance computing brought to the way science is done by making computer simulation a third leg of science along with theory and experiment.

ASC Purple was the result a long tern collaboration effort between NNSA’s ASC) Program and IBM, with LLNL as the lead laboratory. The ASC Purple contract, was announced by the Secretary of Energy in November 2002. ASC is a tri-laboratory program, including Los Alamos Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and LLNL, that develops the complex application codes and provides the computers necessary to certify the safety and reliability of the enduring stockpile. Purple was the first machine to be used as a capability platform by all 3 NNSA laboratories.

In 2005 and 2006 ASC Purple was listed as one of the fastest supercomputers in the world. NNSA, because of its demanding mission, continues to require, develop and procure systems of extraordinary capability and application reach.  In 2009, NNSA earned three of the top 10 spots: Roadrunner (No. 2, LANL); BlueGene/L (No. 7, LLNL); and Red Sky (No. 10, Sandia/National Renewable Energy Laboratory). In addition, the NNSA's Dawn platform at LLNL was ranked as the 11th fastest in the world.

For more about ASC Purple see:

For more about ASC see:

For video of NNSA’s Director of Advanced Simulation and Computing Robert Meisner discussing the decommissioning, please click here.

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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.