AWE is responsible for manufacturing and maintaining the warheads for the UK’s nuclear deterrent, Trident. The organisation’s work covers the entire life cycle of nuclear warheads, from initial concept, assessment and design through component manufacture and assembly, in-service support, decommissioning and then disposal.
“The breadth and depth of our science, engineering and technology is extensive, and includes several key areas that are central to AWE’s work, such as plasma physics, design physics and supercomputing,” said Ken Atkinson, HPC Strategy and Procurement manager at AWE. “We require the most advanced high performance computing to support our demanding, large memory applications, and looked to SGI to provide a system on which we can rely. We can now run our largest problem sets in less than half the time it previously took, bringing the total cost of ownership over the next three years to less than 50 percent of the current level.”
AWE’s sophisticated scientific and technological capabilities enable the design and production of nuclear warheads that are performance-assured and meet stringent safeguards. For example, maintenance of Trident must be performed without actual nuclear testing, as the UK’s ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty prohibits any test that produces any nuclear yield underground, underwater, in the atmosphere or in space. AWE must therefore continually develop methods to verify the safety and reliability of nuclear warheads through a science-based programme.
“It’s hard to think of more critical applications than those supported by the SGI equipment deployed at AWE,” said Rod Evans, vice president of sales for SGI Europe. “With Altix UV 1000, AWE can really accelerate its computer-based research, dramatically reducing ‘time to science.’”
Designed for maximum scalability, the Altix UV 1000 is a fully integrated cabinet-level solution, with up to 256 sockets (2,048 cores) and 16 TBs of shared memory in four racks, delivering up to 18.5 teraflops of compute power in a single system image.
“Managing the world’s atomic weapons stockpile is an extremely important global issue,” said Rajeeb Hazra, general manager of High Performance Computing at Intel. “We are excited that Intel and SGI can support simulating such advanced scenarios with Altix UV powered by Intel Xeon processors 7500 series.”
The SGI Altix UV 1000 systems will run in addition to two existing SGI solutions – an SGI XE500-based cluster used for virtualisation and an SGI Altix 4700 blade-based supercomputer.