The Atomic Weapons Establishment manufactures and maintains warheads for the UK's nuclear deterrent, Trident. This encompasses the entire life cycle of nuclear warheads, from initial concept, assessment and design through component manufacture and assembly, in-service support, decommissioning and then disposal.
"We're constantly looking for ways to enhance and develop programmes to support the UK government's nuclear weapons programme", stated Ken Atkinson, HPC Strategy and Procurement manager at AWE. "We turned to SGI again and chose their ICE X M-Cell systems to deliver a flexible and scalable infrastructure, which enables us to continue to underwrite the safety and effectiveness of the Trident warhead in the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty era. It's critical that advanced high-performance computing systems underpin our science programme, and SGI's supercomputing systems should enable us to quickly advance research and development. SGI met our thorough review process and was able to accommodate our tight schedule for manufacture, factory testing, delivery and commissioning."
AWE's sophisticated scientific and technological capabilities enable them to meet stringent safeguards. For example, maintenance of Trident must be performed without actual nuclear testing, as the UK's ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty prohibits any test that produces any nuclear yield underground, underwater, in the atmosphere or in space. AWE must therefore continually develop methods to verify the safety and reliability of nuclear warheads through a science-based programme.
"Our continued commitment to AWE ensures they can address the future of nuclear weapons, and safely, strategically advance a range of scientific challenges", stated Jorge Titinger, president and CEO of SGI. "Our SGI ICE X systems are scalable and flexible, enabling AWE to run a wide range of applications and improve scientific modelling."
The new SGI ICE X systems will help AWE accelerate results by modelling more accurately and scaling up to perform more scientific models quickly - while also enabling them to easily add capacity for future simulation needs. The ICE X system, with its integrated blade design, offers rack-level redundant power and cooling via air, warm water or cold water, for enhanced reliability and availability. The result is a system with unmatched efficiency, performance and overall value.
AWE is installing two SGI ICE X M-Cell systems and a single ICE X D-Cell test system with a combined peak performance of 1.8 Petaflops (thousand trillion calculations per second). The SGI ICE X M-Cell Systems jointly utilise in excess of 8,000 Intel Xeon processors, specifically Ivy Bridge E5-2680 v2 2.8GHz (115w). Each system has a visualisation sub-system based on SGI VizServer and some High-Memory nodes for legacy applications. The Network is an FDR Infiniband and the Storage is provided by 6 x DDN SFA12k delivering an aggregate performance of over 150GB/second via the Lustre parallel filesystem.
SGI ICE X is the only system in its class offering expandability within and across technology generations while maintaining uninterrupted production workflow, and is the only platform capable of seamless scalability from tens of Teraflops to tens of Petaflops.
AWE has been an SGI customer for over 10 years. AWE also leverages two SGI Altix UV 1000 systems to rapidly solve large memory engineering problems. These are used in addition to an SGI Altix XE500-based cluster used for visualisation and an SGI Altix 4700 blade-based supercomputer.