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Meeting national security science challenges with reliable computing

As part of the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI), the Exascale Computing Project (ECP) was established to develop a capable exascale ecosystem, encompassing applications, system software, hardware technologies and architectures, and workforce development to meet the scientific and national security mission needs of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in the mid-2020s time frame.

The goal of ECP is to deliver breakthrough modeling and simulation solutions that analyze more data in less time, providing insights and answers to the most critical U.S. challenges in scientific discovery, energy assurance, economic competitiveness and national security.

What is exascale computing?

John Sarrao
2:27

Exascale: The next frontier in computing

Exascale computing refers to computing systems capable of at least one exaflop or a billion billion calculations per second (1018). That is 50 times faster than the most powerful supercomputers being used today and represents a thousand-fold increase over the first petascale computer that came into operation in 2008. How we use these large-scale simulation resources is the key to solving some of today’s most pressing problems, including clean energy production, nuclear reactor lifetime extension and nuclear stockpile aging.

The Los Alamos role

In the run-up to developing exascale systems, at Los Alamos we will be taking the lead on a co-design center, the Co-Design Center for Particle-Based Methods: From Quantum to Classical, Molecular to Cosmological. The ultimate goal is the creation of scalable open exascale software platforms suitable for use by a variety of particle-based simulations.

Los Alamos is leading the Exascale Atomistic capability for Accuracy, Length and Time (EXAALT) application development project. EXAALT will develop a molecular dynamics simulation platform that will fully utilize the power of exascale. The platform will allow users to choose the point in accuracy, length or time-space that is most appropriate for the problem at hand, trading the cost of one over another. The EXAALT project will be powerful enough to address a wide range of materials problems. For example, during its development, EXAALT will examine the degradation of UO2 fission fuel and plasma damage in tungsten under fusion first-wall conditions.

In addition, Los Alamos and partnering organizations will be involved in key software development proposals that cover many components of the software stack for exascale systems, including programming models and runtime libraries, mathematical libraries and frameworks, tools, lower-level system software, data management and I/O, as well as in situ visualization and data analysis.

Building a capable exascale ecosystem

The NSCI framework defines computing for the next several decades and includes:

  • Pursuing specific exascale computing platforms
  • Using exascale and large-scale simulation well
  • Imagining what comes next

A collaboration of partners

ECP is a collaborative effort of two DOE organizations—the Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). DOE formalized this long-term strategic effort under the guidance of key leaders from six DOE and NNSA National Laboratories: Argonne, Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge and Sandia. The ECP leads the formalized project management and integration processes that bridge and align the resources of the DOE and NNSA laboratories, allowing them to work with industry more effectively.

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