More Bull grunt for Blighty's atom-bomb factory
Xeon drives UK, French nukes: US favouring Opteron
French-centred IT provider Bull has announced an order from the UK's nuclear weapons apparatus for a third bullx supercomputer. The new "Blackthorn" machine will join two existing bullx "Willows" already in use by the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE).
"The contract with AWE is a clear demonstration of Bull's ability to deliver extreme computing technology to match the demands of the most exacting requirements of research, engineering and scientific computing environments," says Fabio Gallo, Bull Extreme Computing chief.
The new Blackthorn machine is one of the first supercomputer outings for Intel's six-core Xeon "Westmere" processor, some 2160 of which are included in the design on 1080 blades with 750 TB of storage. This delivers 145 teraflops of grunt, and AWE expect to use the new machine for large single projects that may take days to run.
With live nuclear testing now forbidden by international treaty, atom-bomb boffins worldwide need to run extremely processor-intensive simulations in order to design new weapons and form an idea of how reliable existing stocks will be over time. The most powerful known supercomputers now in existence reside within the US nuke apparatus - though lately, these have used Opteron and Cell processors rather than Intel's wares.
"This investment will ... underpin our continued ability to underwrite the safety and effectiveness of the Trident warhead in the Comprehensive Test Ban era," says Dr Graeme Nicholson, AWE's Director Science and Technology.
Bull also provides hefty computing for the French nuke programme, having recently supplied a petaflop-grade Tera 100 system (also Xeon based) to the Military Applications department of the Commissariat à l'énergie atomique (CEA). ®
Given Britains association with the history of the computer...
it is very sad that some British entity is unable to supply the computing wherewithal for this program.
Such a sad commentary on Britain's slide into production banality.
You also want to design new devices that yield the same-sized bang from a smaller package. After all, if you're sticking it on a missile, payload weight is everything. And when you're talking MIRVs, if you can make them each 10% lighter / smaller, you can toss a couple more onto a missile and go for more targets.
It's all very precise, this annihilation thingy.
Lets face it, come the sad day they should ever be needed, we wouldn't want our buckets of instant sunshine mounted atop Trident to fly a few thousand miles, spoof its way through any defense systems and arrive on its target only to go pop when the detonators go off, rather than obliterate the poor sods underneath it.
Much like flying manned bombers in there and dropping leaflets; if you've gone that far, finish the job properly.