How do you know if you nuke is going to detonate or not if treaties prevent you from blowing up a representative sample now and then in tests? Well, you just hire IBM to build the world's fastest supercomputer to simulate them. Look for Roadrunner--the world's fastest supercomputer--to start modeling nukes later this year. R.C.J.
Los Alamos National Laboratory is using the world's fastest supercomputer, dubbed "Roadrunner," to run extremely accurate simulations to verify the reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile. Over the last six months, Roadrunner proved its mettle working on 10 unclassified projects that advanced the state-of-the-art in astrophysics, plasma physics, nanotechnology, magnetic reconnection and materials science. Roadrunner was developed by IBM Corp. in partnership with Los Alamos National Lab and the National Nuclear Security Administration. It's developers claim Roadrunner is the first computer to exceed petaflop performance at 1.105 petaflops per second (1 petaflop is a quadrillion floating-point operations per second). The 10 test projects were selected to flush out any problems in Roadrunner's architecture. The projects were also chosen since all use the large data sets crunched when simulating nuclear weapon tests, especially aging weapons.