El Capitan

This $600 Million Supercomputer Will Manage the US’s Nukes

byKristin Houser
8. 13. 19

It'll be more powerful than today's top 100 supercomputers combined.

Nuclear Deterrent

In 2000, Congress created the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to manage the United States’ nuclear stockpile — and starting in 2023, the agency will do so with the help of El Capitan, an incredibly powerful supercomputer.

“NNSA is modernizing the Nuclear Security Enterprise to face 21st- century threats,” NNSA administrator Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty said in a statement. “El Capitan will allow us to be more responsive, innovative, and forward-thinking when it comes to maintaining a nuclear deterrent that is second to none in a rapidly-evolving threat environment.”

Cray’s Creation

Supercomputer manufacturer Cray announced on Tuesday that it had signed a contract to create the $600 million supercomputer, which the U.S. government will use for such purposes as simulating how nuclear weapons age and assessing threats to national security.

Cray’s goal is to deliver El Capitan in late 2022, with the NNSA’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories expected to begin using the supercomputer about a year later.


Quintillion Calculations

El Capitan will be the NNSA’s first exascale supercomputer, a class reserved for computers capable of a quintillion calculations per second. With a peak performance of 1.5 exaflops, it’ll be more powerful than today’s top 100 supercomputers combined.

“El Capitan will allow our scientists and engineers to get answers to critical questions about the nuclear stockpile faster and more accurately than ever before,” LLNL lab director Bill Goldstein said in the statement, “improving our efficiency and productivity, and enhancing our ability to reach our mission and national security goals.”

READ MORE: Cray is building a supercomputer to manage the US’ nuclear stockpile [Engadget]

More on nuclear weapons: New Missile Lobs Nukes 5X Faster Than Sound


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