National Nuclear Security Administration

Los Alamos team saves more than $2 million on Trinity supercomputer

September 7, 2016

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Los Alamos National Laboratory currently is completing the installation of its new supercomputer, Trinity. A team at Los Alamos has saved millions on this installation by redesigning the wiring layout and re-engineering cable installation. Los Alamos Data Center Manager Ron Velarde leads the High Performance Computing facilities team, who discovered the potential for cost-savings in a reconfiguration of the wiring for the power feed to Trinity’s computing racks

“Trinity is one of the most advanced computers in the world, with initially at least seven times better performance than the Los Alamos former supercomputer (Cielo) and when fully built out it will have a speed of 41 PetaFLOPS (that’s one thousand million floating-point operations per second),” said Doug Wade, head of NNSA’s Advanced Simulation and Computing Program. Trinity is designed to increase computational capability to support NNSA’s mission, making sure the U.S. can continue to maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear stockpile, without explosive nuclear testing.

“My team and I are always looking to improve engineering means and methods for supercomputer installations in our data centers,” Velarde said.

Thanks to his team’s efforts, the approved redesign saved Los Alamos an estimated $2.6 million in material and labor costs. NNSA’s Sandia National Laboratories also adopted the new design for their similar computing systems, as other supercomputer facilities, including Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, are taking the discovery into consideration as well.

The team also worked to save resources on cables for the computing systems. They used prefabricated copper tray cable instead of fabricating 22,000 feet of cables on site as originally planned. Additionally, they pioneered the use of new aluminum cables for high-performance computing systems in Los Alamos’ data and communications center, saving 20 percent in materials cost and a factor of three in weight. This technique is also expected to generate cost and weight savings in other areas of Los Alamos.

Learn more about supercomputing at Los Alamos and how it supports NNSA’s mission of stockpile stewardship.