April 4, 2002
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Contract Signed For Construction Of Supercomputing Facility At Livermore Laboratory


The University of California and M.A. Mortenson Company’s Advanced Technology Group have signed a contract for construction of the facility that will house the next generation of supercomputer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

The Terascale Simulation Facility (TSF) will be home to the supercomputers that will conduct simulations of nuclear weapons performance under the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Stockpile Stewardship Program to ensure the safety and reliability of the nation’s nuclear stockpile without testing.

"The TSF will allow the ASCI program to meet its future mission goals in stockpile stewardship and will house the future in high-performance scientific computing," said Dave Nowak, the Lab’s ASCI program leader.

The $54.45 million contract covers construction of the 253,000-square-foot supercomputing facility including two 128-foot-by-192-foot two-level computer room facilities — over one acre of computer floor, larger than a football field — flanked to the south by a four-story office complex that will house 288 scientists and engineers. Groundbreaking is scheduled for early April.

"Mortenson brings a lot of experience in advanced technology projects to the construction of the Terascale Simulation Facility," said Roy Neyer, Laboratory project manager. "We’re excited to work with Mortenson to build the facility of the future in supercomputing."

Construction of TSF will take four years with completion scheduled for 2006, though the first ground floor computer area is to be completed in time for the June 2004 delivery of the Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASCI) program’s 60 plus teraflops (60 trillion floating operations per second) Option Purple machines.

Computer room design features include "clear span" construction with no obstructing columns and a raised floor to facilitate cooling of the 100 TeraOPS-class computers ASCI requires for simulation of nuclear weapons performance under the Stockpile Stewardship Program.

Based in Minnesota, M.A. Mortenson’s Advanced Technology Group (ATG) was chosen in a "best value contract selection process." The company was chosen for its experience and exemplary safety record, according to Neyer.

A privately held, family-owned construction company, M.A. Mortenson has been in the general contracting business for 47 years. Mortenson ATG has worked with such clients as Seagate Technology, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Honeywell International, Agilent Technologies, Cypress Semiconductor and other technology companies.

This is not the first Laboratory project to which Mortenson has contributed. The company set and aligned laser bay vessels and structures in the National Ignition Facility.

"We completed some 12 projects almost identical in requirements to the TSF," said Tab Barth, the senior project manager who will oversee work at the Lab for Mortenson ATG. "Our division has built many clean room, controlled-environment facilities for private industry as well as for university research and development projects.

Mortenson ATG has built over a billion dollars in electronics and microelectronics facilities around the world and prides itself on delivering projects on time and within budget. Company areas of specialization include mechanical, electrical and process systems and has developed a reputation as a cost effective provider of microelectronics facilities.

The effort to build a new facility began with the ASCI program six years ago. "When the program started, we realized we didn’t have the infrastructure for new machines," said Barbara Atkinson of the Laboratory’s Computation Directorate. "We were able to accommodate ASCI White by retrofitting and by making such modifications as raising the floor in the main room of the building that formerly housed the National Energy Supercomputing program, NERSC. But, we’ve taken that building as far as we could."

She said the TSF has been designed to be "multipurpose, scalable, flexible and long-lived" with the "capability to accommodate a wide variety of systems, even beyond the 100 teraflop (100 trillion floating operations per second) machines. "The TSF will provide LLNL with a state-of-art supercomputing facility capable of siting the world’s most technologically advanced systems to serve Lab missions through the first half of the 21st century.

Laboratory news releases and photos are also available electronically on the World Wide Web of the Internet at URL http://www.llnl.gov/PAO and on UC Newswire.