Construction of the Terascale Simulation Facility officially got underway in a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday attended by Rep. Ellen Tauscher, community leaders and Laboratory officials.
“This groundbreaking highlights a particular technology area and programmatic element that has been characteristic of all 50 years of the Laboratory history,” said Lab Director Bruce Tarter, who presided over the ceremony. “We’ve been at the forefront of supercomputing most of the 50 years of our lives. This new facility will allow us to maintain that position in the coming years.”
The Laboratory has excelled at applying supercomputer simulations to the nuclear weapons program under the Advanced Simulation and Computing program, also known ASCI, Tarter said. “The computers that will go into this building are at the heart and soul of continuing to do that job in the future.”
He retraced the six-year “journey” from the start of the Stockpile Stewardship Program and identification of the requirements for ensuring the safety and reliability of the nuclear stockpile to the recent major milestone of simulating a complete nuclear explosion. “Achieving full 3D simulation was a huge effort,” Tarter said. “We need to be able to do that on a continuing basis.”
Tarter also expressed a “special debt of gratitude” to Deputy Director for Strategic Operations Michael Anastasio for laying much of the foundation for the TSF.
Tauscher said the dedication of two new facilities “shows the breadth and scope of the opportunities we have here at the Laboratory.”
Recent events have served to make the Laboratory work better known to Congress, Tauscher said. “They know more and more about what you’re doing specifically because of the threats we’re facing in the post-September 11 environment.
“What we have here now is a Lab that has constantly remade itself relevant at the very forefront of the state-of-the-art in science,” Tauscher said.
“The facility we’re breaking ground for is a building. But, what this is really all about is you,” she said, adding it is her pleasure to support the Lab’s work “so we can protect the American people in evil and dangerous times and very dangerous times.
“As the mother of a soon-to-be 11-year-old, I thank you for the world you’ve helped create, and hope we can live in safe times, when we’re not confused about the threats but mindful of them,” Tauscher said in concluding her remarks.
John McTague, University of California vice president for Laboratory Management, noting the Laboratory’s 50th anniversary, observed that “this Lab is one of UC’s earliest campuses. It’s older than all but two of the UC campuses.”
While most people look back at their past and slow down at 50, McTague said the Laboratory “isn’t slowing down, it is speeding up.”
He said the “exciting new” investment in scientific facilities such as the International Security Research Facility, TSF, NIF and ASCI White reflect the vigor of the Lab and that these investments are in fields that will be “relevant to the Laboratory and to the nation” for the next half century.
“The continual youthfulness of these labs and forward-looking character is due in no small measure to the superb directors this Lab has had over the years,” McTague said. “Today we owe a particular debt of gratitude to Bruce Tarter who seems to have found the fountain of youth for this remarkable 50-year-old Laboratory.”
Bill Reed, director of Advanced Simulation and Computing for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Defense Programs, said it was very gratifying to dedicate the start of the TSF. “We’ve all worked very hard to make this a reality.”
He reflected on the power the new generation Option Purple supercomputers represent. “This computer is to perform at 100 teraops — 100 trillion operations per second,” Reed said.
“This will be a remarkable machine that will make a tremendous difference in our national security,” he said. “We’re right on target for constructing this building and procuring the machine that will go into it.”
Dona Crawford, AD for Computation, said the high-performance computing resources at the Laboratory not only serve Lab scientists, “but also serves our partners at Los Alamos, Sandia and selected universities.
“This environment is much more than big computers. It includes facilities and tools for data mining, visualization and collaboration, which together with computers turn data into knowledge,” she said. “Breaking ground on the TSF is an important step in providing a facility to house several generations of computers and associated peripherals into the future.”
Crawford said without the leadership of Mike McCoy, Mark Seager, Barbara Atkinson, Roy Neyer and Anita Zenger, “we wouldn’t be here today.”
Bruce Goodwin, AD for Defense and Nuclear Technologies, credited the work of David Nowak and Randy Christensen, “who worked tirelessly from the very beginning on ASCI not just to make it a success, but to make it what it is, to help define and keep the strategy on track that got us here today.”
Goodwin confessed he was “skeptical” when he first got involved with the ASCI program that 100 teraops could be achieved, though “I sure wanted it to happen.”
Goodwin said ASCI is critical to the Laboratory’s national security missions. “Our job is national security and nuclear weapons,” Goodwin said. “We built these machines for national security, though they’re going to have a huge impact on science and technology in general.
“But, deterrence is our job here,” Goodwin said. “I’ve lived in a world without world war for 51 years and nuclear weapons made that possible. ASCI is an essential tool that will enable us to take care of these weapons — make them safe and reliable into the indefinite future.”