Livermore Lab Unveils Plans for New and Improved Supercomputer

Sierra Solorio | Staff Writer

The well-known Lawrence Livermore National Lab recently constructed and opened a new building, solely for supercomputers and to create a more sophisticated supercomputer. Although they already had an impressive one, LLNL paired up with IBM to fabricate a new one. IBM stands for the International Business Machines Corporation.

Together, LLNL and IBM have fabricated an astounding supercomputer that is based on the human brain. This supercomputer is one of the smartest machine of its time, thanks to the neurosynaptic computer chip provided by IBM. On LLNL’s website, Jim Brase, LLNL deputy associate director for Data Science, said, “The potential capabilities neuromorphic computing represents and the machine intelligence that these will enable will change how we do science.” Essentially, the lab and scientists are expecting great results and advancements thanks to this new supercomputer.

The Lawrence Livermore National Lab states, “The brain-like, neural network design of the IBM Neuromorphic System is able to infer complex cognitive tasks such as pattern recognition and integrated sensory processing far more efficiently than conventional chips.” The computer’s composition makes it smarter and more efficient than ever before. The IBM computer chip is currently the most accurate synthesis of the brain.

Sue Johnston, a physics and calculus teacher here at LHS, explained how LLNL keeps on creating supercomputers because they continuously need more advanced programs. The math and science solved by the supercomputer is becoming increasingly complex, so the computer must keep developing. Additionally, she spoke about LLNL’s goal to have the number one supercomputer in the world. They are currently sitting in fourth place, claims Mrs. Johnston.

Employees from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory work on a high-performance computer used in research with Purdue University to improve simulations that show a nuclear weapon's performance in precise molecular detail. (Photo courtesy of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)
Credit: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

The Press Officer at LLNL, Donald Johnston, says, “Supercomputers enable the Lab to fulfill its core mission of ensuring the safety, security and reliability of the nation’s aging nuclear deterrent without underground testing.” Donald Johnston also spoke of the constant need for more intricate supercomputers. He claims that next year LLNL will start on a new supercomputer, named Sierra, to replace the most recent one, Sequoia. Sierra will have the capability of “running physics codes and 3D simulations of scientific phenomena important to understanding at the atomic level in the performance of nuclear weapons in the nation’s stockpile as well as other scientific problems.” Supercomputers are always evolving, so there will be new designs in the future.

LLNL takes great pride in their supercomputer, and cannot wait to see how it will impact the lab and their work. The supercomputer will allow the scientists to input complex calculations, allowing them to do advanced scientific and mathematical work.

Mr. Johnston also emphasized how the company IBM assists LLNL with the new supercomputers. Together, the two are an unstoppable pair that continues to impress and amaze not only scientists, but also the public around them.

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