SGI wins contract with Britain's Atomic Weapons Establishment
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March 24, 2015
A new range of SGI supercomputers will be used in nuclear weapons research at Britain's Atomic
Weapons Establishment, according to SGI.
SGI has landed the contract to install two Linux-based SGI ICE XA supercomputers at the U.K. AWE. The
new computers will be responsible for the warheads installed in the U.K.’s Trident missile systems.
The ICE XA was unveiled in November 2014 by SGI, which claims that the U.K. AWE is one of its range’s
The systems are designed for what it called “the most extreme HPC environments”, SGI said when
it unveiled them at that time.
The deal extends an existing, twelve-year relationship between SGI and UK AWE on supercomputers.
According to SGI, the new units will provide greater scale and flexibility in scientific modelling,
and at higher resolutions, along with with faster provisioning than before.
The two mainframes will be used in work on assessment, design and testing of nuclear warheads, as
well as ongoing support, decommissioning and disposal.
The live use of nuclear weapons is prohibited by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, meaning
that firing and testing must be simulated using the new computers.
To that end, the ICE XA supercomputers feature Intel’s Xeon E5-2600 v3 processors, which can be
expanded using Intel’s Phi Co-processors or NVIDIA GPU accelerators.
The new systems can scale to tens of thousands of nodes and hundreds of thousands of cores running
linked together using InfiniBand.
ICE XA runs either SUSE or Red Hat Linux. A warm-water cooling system will also save about 30 percent
on cooling costs, SGI added.
Under the deal, SGI will deliver services that include on-site customer support and project management
with installation and migration.
As is usually the case in most of these announcements, the financial details and the terms of the
agreement were not revealed to the media.
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