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June 20, 2014

AWE steps up safety with supercomputers

The atomic weapon factory is testing its weapons on supercomputers.

By Amy-Jo Crowley

The UK Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) is stepping up the safety and development of its nuclear warheads after agreeing to operate three supercomputers developed by computing firm SGI.

The atomic bomb factory in Berkshire started using three of SGI’s ICE X systems today after "flawlessly" completing a series acceptance tests back in 2013, according to a spokesperson from SGI.

SGI said the systems would allow AWE to run a wide rang of applications as part of AWE’s science programme to trial weapons in a simulated environment.

Paul Tomlinson, head of High Performance Computing at AWE, said: "It’s critical that advanced high-performance computing systems underpin our science programme, and SGI’s supercomputing systems are enabling us to quickly advance research and development. Crucially, this means we can continue to underwrite the safety and effectiveness of the Trident warhead in the comprehensive test ban treaty era."

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty currently prohibits any test that produces any nuclear waste underground, underwater, in the atmosphere or in space.

"From the very outset there was a one-team approach between SGI and AWE. We are very happy with the professionalism and adaptability of SGI to meet and exceed our expectations throughout this complex project," added Tomlinson.

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SGI, which provides analytics and cloud computing, said its systems would allow AWE to run a wide rang of applications.

SGI ‘s CEO and president Jorge Titinger said: "As is often the case with critically important supercomputers of this magnitude, the project was subject to a demanding delivery timeline.

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