The new National Security Computing Center (NSCC) is launched at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M. by NNSA. NNSA, established by Congress in 2000, is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation’s national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Red Storm, supercomputing platform built at Sandia National Laboratories as part of NNSA’s stockpile stewardship program, enables the nation new opportunities to address national security challenges. Listed last year as one of the top 15 fastest computers in the world, Red Storm is one of a suite of platforms across its national laboratories that NNSA’s Office of Advanced Simulating and Computing (ASC) uses to ensure the United States nuclear weapons stockpile continues to be safe, secure and reliable without nuclear testing.
The new National Security High Performance Computing center is a Department of Energy supercomputing facility for top-secret level applications. Its unique capabilities will be applied to help solve pressing national security problems such as cyber security and cyber defense, vulnerability assessments, informatics (network discovery), space systems threats and situational awareness. The system can also be used to provide high-fidelity, physical simulations and advanced signal and imagery processing for intelligence and national security tasks.
As part of NNSA’s stockpile stewardship program, ASC computers use models and simulations to understand and predict behaviors associated with aging weapons by, among other things, gauging various stages of a nuclear explosion. NNSA’s national laboratories employ the supercomputers daily to answer some of the nation’s most complex scientific and engineering questions.
Red Storm proved itself in broadened applications when it was called into service to assist the Department of Defense in planning Operation Burnt Frost, the highly successful engagement to safely shoot down an errant U.S. satellite in 2008. Use of this national asset was extended when the intelligence community recognized simulations at the extreme scales afforded by Red Storm could uniquely contribute to solving national security challenges.
NNSA authorized Sandia to upgrade Red Storm to a 280 teraflop computing capacity and extend its operations for at least four to five more years to power robust high-performance computing systems in both classified and unclassified environments. The Red Storm platform and facility are extensible, allowing them to accommodate future upgrades and improvements with minimal interruption.