Secret Security Supercomputer Cielo, What Are You Working on Today?

Maintaining America's nuclear deterrent is a 24x7 job, but Cielo isn't complaining.

Los Alamos Labs' Cielo Supercomputer

DOE

Name: Cielo

TOP500 Rank: 6

Vital Stats: System: Cray XE6 8-core 2.4 GHz running Linux. Processors: AMD x86_64 Opteron 8 Core 2400 MHz (9.6 gigaflops). Sustained performance: 1.11 petaflops. The hardware takes up about 1,500 square feet but uses less than 4 megawatts of energy. The system consists of 96 cabinets with nearly 9,000 compute nodes and approximately 300 terabytes of memory.

What Are You Up To? Installed this year, Cielo is Los Alamos National Labs' newest nuclear weapons modeling and simulation platform. As such, specifics on what it's working on at any given time are closely held. Cielo works for three national laboratories: Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). Like its sister system Roadrunner, it performs advanced physics and predictive simulations to assure the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

Cielo did tell us it is running roughly 20 projects on the particular day in question, all above our security clearance. But it has busier days. On a recent unspecified day, it ran 663 jobs ranging in size from 1 node to 4096 nodes (the system has a total of 8192 nodes). Each node contains two 8 core processor chips. With all that work Cielo gives a good deal of credit to its filing system, which puts your USB 3.0-equipped external hard drive to shame. The 10-petabyte storage system moves files between supercomputers and storage at speeds approaching 8 gigabits per second.

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