Saturday, 11th July 2020

Supercomputer goes atomic

United Kingdom’s Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) has selected the Cray Shasta supercomputer to support security and defence of the U.K. The Shasta system, purpose-built for the exascale era, was chosen due to its ability to run mixed workloads and applications at the best total cost of ownership (TCO) for a system across five years.

AWE’s supercomputer, named Vulcan, will feature a single Shasta supercomputer with expected performance of more than 7 petaflops. Shasta will play an integral role in maintaining the U.K.’s nuclear deterrent. “High-performance computing is a critical aspect of AWE,” said Andy Herdman, head of HPC at AWE. “It underpins the vast majority of our science-based programs, and we’re continually looking for ways to enhance and support this important work. This is why we chose Shasta, for its unique and powerful features, as well as its ability to provide optimal TCO.”

The U.K. Ministry of Defence is responsible for the program and stewardship of AWE, which is operated under contract by AWE Management Limited. The Establishment has been at the forefront of U.K. nuclear deterrence for more than 60 years. Predicated on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty which prohibits emission of nuclear yield, AWE must continually verify the safety and reliability of nuclear warheads through science-based and computational programming. Shasta will further extend AWE’s sophisticated scientific and technological capabilities.

“We are incredibly proud to be chosen by AWE to support their important mission,” said Peter Ungaro, president and CEO at Cray. “Shasta will bring Exascale Era technologies to bear on AWE’s challenging modeling and simulation data-intensive workload and enable the convergence of AI and analytics into this same workload, on a single system.”

Vulcan’s Shasta architecture will include the Cray Slingshot™ interconnect, AMD EPYCä 7542 processors and Cray ClusterStor® Lustre storage. The high performance storage system will offer nearly 100 gigabytes per second of I/O performance.

“We are pleased to once again partner with Cray to deliver a powerful new supercomputer that will support critical research efforts in the U.K.,” said Forrest Norrod, senior vice president and general manager, AMD Datacenter and Embedded Systems Group. “Our 2nd Generation AMD EPYC™ processors provide unprecedented performance while helping to reduce TCO, key elements for driving success for AWE in the coming years.”

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