Notebook

By the end of next year, United States Department of Energy researchers hope to build a new computer powerful enough to engage in virtual nuclear explosions so realistic that real-world bomb tests could become obsolete. The computer-development project responds to President Bill Clinton's call for a "science-based stockpile stewardship program" to maintain a safe, secure, and reliable nuclear deterrent without underground testing. Key to the proposed simulation approach to testing will be crea

The Scientist Staff
Oct 1, 1995

By the end of next year, United States Department of Energy researchers hope to build a new computer powerful enough to engage in virtual nuclear explosions so realistic that real-world bomb tests could become obsolete. The computer-development project responds to President Bill Clinton's call for a "science-based stockpile stewardship program" to maintain a safe, secure, and reliable nuclear deterrent without underground testing. Key to the proposed simulation approach to testing will be creation of a so-called teraflops computer-"tera" meaning 1 trillion, and "flops" meaning floating point operations per second-a massively parallel supercomputer much faster than any in existence today. The fastest computing speed to date is 281 gigaflops-"giga" meaning 1 billion-whereas the new computer will aim for 1.8 teraflops. Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel Corp. will provide thousands of P6 microprocessors-the successor chip to its Pentium chip-for the $46 million project, which will involve the Sandia, Los Alamos, and Lawrence Livermore...

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