recommended reading

Supercomputer Now Focused on Classified Nuclear Deterrence

The Sequoia supercomputer

The Sequoia supercomputer // National Nuclear Security Administration

The Energy Department has dedicated a new supercomputer to monitoring the health of the nation's atomic arsenal, officials for the U.S. nuclear program announced this week.

The National Nuclear Security Administration successfully shifted one-year-old “Sequoia” from operating unclassified trial simulations to running classified replications of nuclear blasts.

The IBM-built supercomputer, one of the most energy-efficient on earth, placed first on the industry's Top 500 list of the world’s most powerful machines last summer. In November 2012, Sequoia fell to second place, but ranked best in the world at solving "big data" problems involving intensive information analysis.

"These capabilities provide confidence in the U.S. deterrent as it is reduced under treaty agreements,” said Chris Deeney, the agency’s assistant deputy administrator for stockpile stewardship, in a statement. The United States in 1992 stopped blowing up materials underground to test weapons performance and now only runs digital simulations of explosions.

The Obama administration’s attitude toward deterrence is shifting amid rising tensions with aspiring nuclear powers. As recently as December 2012, on the 20th anniversary of a disarmament agreement with the former Soviet Union, Obama pushed to “strengthen the global nonproliferation regime.” 

But, in February, with North Korea threatening to shoot missiles at South Korea, Obama "unequivocally reaffirmed" that the United States “remains steadfast” in its commitment to providing the Asian democracy with the “extended deterrence offered by the U.S. nuclear umbrella,” administration officials said.

The California-based Sequoia will perform "uncertainty quantification" calculations to pinpoint the degree of confidence in each prediction of weapons behavior, according to Energy.

"Sequoia’s mammoth computing power" -- reaching 20 petaflop/s, or a quadrillion operations per second -- will provide a more complete understanding of the properties of materials at extreme pressures and temperatures, Deeney said. 

Threatwatch Alert

User accounts compromised

1 Million Online Gaming Accounts Exposed

See threatwatch report

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.