February 12, 1998

Matthew Donoghue/Christina Kielich, 202/586-5806
[email protected]
[email protected]

Peña Calls for Ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

DOE, IBM Partnership Launches New Dimension In Supercomputing - 10,000,000,000,000 in 2000

In a major policy address, Secretary of Energy Federico Peña strongly urged the U.S. Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty signed by President Clinton in September 1996. Pointing to the fact that a comprehensive test ban has been a foreign policy objective of every U.S. president since Eisenhower, Secretary Peña cited advances in the Department of Energy's (DOE) science-based Stockpile Stewardship Program to maintain the safety and reliability of the nuclear stockpile without underground testing. Peña announced that today President Clinton forwarded to Congress the second annual certification of the safety and reliability of the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile -- an annual requirement of the Secretaries of Energy and Defense. To further advance the stewardship program, he also announced the award of an $85 million contract to IBM Corporation (Armonk, N.Y.) for a 10-trillion-operations-per-second computer system.

President Clinton's support of the treaty is conditioned upon a set of safeguards, including the nation's ability to assure the long-term safety and reliability of the nuclear deterrent through DOE's Stockpile Stewardship Program. The Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI) is developing the supercomputing, advanced modeling and simulation capabilities. This initiative, together with experimental facilities, will be used to maintain the safety and reliability of the nuclear weapons stockpile without testing.

"The two announcements provide assurance for today and tomorrow. For the second year, the Secretaries of Defense and Energy are certifying that the nation's nuclear deterrent is safe and reliable without testing. In the future, we will be able to provide this assurance based, in part, on information generated by our advanced supercomputers. Together, these announcements underscore the Clinton Administration's belief that the United States can enter a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty with confidence," said Peña.

The contract with IBM will enable the Department of Energy to meet a series of important milestones in computational power and speed. In December 1996, the ASCI program achieved a world record -- one trillion operations per second -- with its "Option Red" machine located at the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Department of Energy's "Option Blue" system will achieve three trillion-operations-per-second in 1999.

The supercomputer announced today -- to be designated "Option White" -- is scheduled for complete installation at DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 2000, will be the world's fastest computer, capable of sustaining a speed of ten TeraOps (i.e., 10 trillion-operations-per-second). In more conventional terms, this supercomputer will be able to do in one second the same number of calculations that it would take a person 10 million years to do with a hand-held calculator. The Department of Energy's (DOE) investment in computer science will yield countless benefits in such areas as health care, understanding global warming, prediction of weather phenomena like El Niño, and industrial applications.

To obtain the 10 TeraOps system, the Department of Energy has exercised its option to extend the partnership with IBM from the earlier competitively awarded "Option Blue" procurement.

"This is truly revolutionary technology," said Secretary Peña. "What is most amazing is that two years ago, no one believed that any of this would be possible. We proved to the world that with American scientific and technological talent, it is possible. And we are proving it again and again as we meet our commitments to the President and to the American people."

Today's system is the third step of a planned dramatic increase in computing power. The large systems are not the end but the means to drive extremely complex computer simulations. ASCI's goal is to develop the capability to simulate nuclear weapons' behavior to ensure their safety and reliability over the long term. This requires the ability to calculate what happens to billions of data points in small fractions of a second. The 10 TeraOps supercomputer at Livermore will consist of more than 8,000 of IBM's newest and fastest RS/6000 processors. Future plans call for acquisition of a 30 and a 100 TeraOps system.

"As these computers increase their speed, they vastly expand the complexity of the calculations we can do," observed Dr. Bruce Tarter, director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "Not only will we be able to calculate improved weapon physics and weapon aging problems, but we are advancing computer science in ways that will help us better understand global climate change, to more quickly develop new drug therapies that could lead to cures for chronic and catastrophic illnesses, and to increase public safety through better aircraft and automotive design."

- DOE -