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What we do

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Our history

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About us

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Orion laser facility

Orion is one of the most powerful lasers and largest laser facilities in the UK.

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A unique national asset

We have unique nuclear expertise. We have a clear purpose and goals that set our direction.

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World-class expertise

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AWEsome education

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Supply chain

The supply chain is crucial to the delivery of our programme. What does it take to be a supplier.

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International partners

We seek to drive better value and efficiencies through collaborative international relationships.

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Before you apply

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High performance computing

High performance computing (HPC) provides three-dimensional modelling and simulation capabilities to support our research. We have a complete supercomputing solution for calculations required by the science and engineering elements of our programme.

We have some of the most advanced and powerful supercomputing facilities in the world, especially in the UK. Since the end of actual testing, our ability to understand the performance of a warhead and underwrite its safety now depends crucially on numerical simulations for modelling both physics and engineering aspects. All of the information from the hydrodynamics and laser experiments and data from materials ageing studies and previous nuclear test results are used in the mathematical modelling.

Our main current platforms are supplied by Bull and SGI, but we also have systems supplied by the major HPC suppliers.

Bull Platforms

We have two high performance computers provided by Bull. The theoretical peak compute power of each system is 140 teraflops and 360 teraflops respectively, which can carry out trillions of calculations per second. This is equivalent to about 20,000 standard personal computers.

SGI Platform

The Spruce system supplied by SGI, is our latest supercomputer utilising SGIs M-Cell architecture but uses Intel Ivy-Bridge (x86-64) ten-core processors. The theoretical peak computer power of Spruce is 1.8 petaflops.

Visualisation

Visualisation, in the context of high performance supercomputing, involves the interpretation and understanding of results generated by large-scale simulation codes running on our supercomputing platforms.

Future HPC technologies

In the past, HPC technologies only delivered performance based on power-hungry architectural changes like clock frequency or increases in memory. More recently, the focus has changed to providing performance/watt. This is then linked to step gains for scientific applications and the insight they deliver towards new science, within a regime of energy efficiency, environmental balance and cost-effectiveness.

These balanced drivers are much more likely to deliver sustainable HPC performance improvements, and achieve exascale levels of compute performance within the next decade.