Los Alamos to study weapons, HIV virus with Linux clusters

Los Alamos to study weapons, HIV virus with Linux clusters

Los Alamos National Laboratory yesterday announced a deal to acquire two Linux clusters, one for modeling nuclear weapons and the other for unclassified research in biology, chemistry and engineering.

Linux Networx Inc. of Bluffdale, Utah, will build a 1,408-node cluster, dubbed Lightning, for the Energy Department's Advanced Simulation and Computing program and a 256-node cluster, called Orange, for the lab's Institutional Computing project.

The Advanced Simulation and Computing program, formerly known as the Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI), simulates the aging of nuclear weapons to assess their safety. Since the mid-1990s, ASCI has funded many of the world's largest computers.

Each one of the clusters' nodes will have two 64-bit Opteron processors from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif. Linux Networx officials predicted Lightning's theoretical peak performance will reach 11.26 trillion operations per second.

The company will build and test the clusters in its Utah plant and then separate and transport them to the New Mexico lab for installation, said Bernard Daines, chief executive officer of Linux Networx. He estimated Lightning would be ready within two months.

The 256-node Orange cluster will be the largest system ever to use InfiniBand switched-fabric interconnect technology, Daines said. Mellanox Technologies Ltd. of Santa Clara, Calif., is supplying the 96-port InfiniScale 10-Gbps switches and InfiniHost dual-port host channel adapters.

Los Alamos researchers will use Orange for simulations of antibiotics, the HIV-1 virus, wildfires, water resources and subatomic particle accelerators.

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