Cray‘s El Capitan $600 million supercomputer will manage US’s National Nuclear Security system.
The Department of Energy (DOE), National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) today announced the signing of contracts with Cray Inc. to build the NNSA’s first exascale supercomputer, “El Capitan.” El Capitan will have a peak performance of more than 1.5 exaflops (1.5 quintillion calculations per second) and an anticipated delivery in late 2022. The total contract award is valued at $600 million.
Featuring advanced capabilities for modeling, simulation and artificial intelligence (AI), based on Cray’s new Shasta architecture, El Capitan is projected to run national nuclear security applications at more than 50 times the speed of LLNL’s Sequoia system. Depending on the application, El Capitan will run roughly 10 times faster on average than LLNL’s Sierra system, currently the world’s second most powerful supercomputer at 125 petaflops of peak performance. Projected to be at least four times more energy efficient than Sierra, El Capitan is expected to go into production by late 2023, servicing the needs of NNSA’s Tri-Laboratory community: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories.
El Capitan will be DOE’s third exascale-class supercomputer, following Argonne National Laboratory’s “Aurora” and Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s “Frontier” system. All three DOE exascale supercomputers will be built by Cray utilizing their Shasta architecture, Slingshot interconnect and new software platform.
“The Department of Energy is the world leader in supercomputing and El Capitan is a critical addition to our next-generation systems,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry. “El Capitan’s advanced capabilities for modeling, simulation and artificial intelligence will help push America’s competitive edge in energy and national security, allow us to ask tougher questions, solve greater challenges and develop better solutions for generations to come.”
Developed as part of the second phase of the Collaboration of Oak Ridge, Argonne and Livermore (CORAL-2) procurement, El Capitan will serve the mission needs of NNSA. It will perform essential functions for the Stockpile Stewardship Program, which supports U.S. national security missions through leading-edge scientific, engineering and technical tools and expertise, ensuring the safety, security and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear stockpile in the absence of underground testing. El Capitan will be used to make critical assessments necessary for addressing evolving threats to national security, and other purposes such as nonproliferation and nuclear counterterrorism.
“NNSA is modernizing the Nuclear Security Enterprise to face 21st- century threats,” said Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, DOE under secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA administrator. “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.”