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UK Atomic Weapons Establishment Advances Science-Based Program with SGI Supercomputers


ICE X Systems to Accelerate Research, Scientific Modeling for UK Defence Organization

DENVER, CO — SGI (Nasdaq: SGI), the trusted leader in high performance computing and Big Data, today announced that the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in the United Kingdom has selected three SGI® ICE™ X systems to rapidly advance sophisticated scientific and technological capabilities, and to enhance the simulation methods used to verify the safety and reliability of the Trident warhead.

The Atomic Weapons Establishment manufactures and maintains warheads for the UK’s nuclear deterrent, Trident. This encompasses the entire life cycle of nuclear warheads, from initial concept, assessment and design through component manufacture and assembly, in-service support, decommissioning and then disposal.

“We’re constantly looking for ways to enhance and develop programs to support the UK government’s nuclear weapons programme,” said Ken Atkinson, HPC Strategy and Procurement manager at AWE. “We turned to SGI again and chose their ICE X M-Cell systems to deliver a flexible and scalable infrastructure, which enables us to continue to underwrite the safety and effectiveness of the Trident warhead in the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty era. It’s critical that advanced high-performance computing systems underpin our science program, and SGI’s supercomputing systems should enable us to quickly advance research and development. SGI met our thorough review process and was able to accommodate our tight schedule for manufacture, factory testing, delivery and commissioning.”

AWE’s sophisticated scientific and technological capabilities enable them to meet stringent safeguards. For example, maintenance of Trident must be performed without actual nuclear testing, as the UK’s ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty prohibits any test that produces any nuclear yield underground, underwater, in the atmosphere or in space. AWE must therefore continually develop methods to verify the safety and reliability of nuclear warheads through a science-based program.

“Our continued commitment to AWE ensures they can address the future of nuclear weapons, and safely, strategically advance a range of scientific challenges,” said Jorge Titinger, president and CEO of SGI. “Our SGI ICE X systems are scalable and flexible, enabling AWE to run a wide range of applications and improve scientific modeling.”

The new SGI ICE X systems will help AWE accelerate results by modeling more accurately and scaling up to perform more scientific models quickly - while also enabling them to easily add capacity for future simulation needs. The ICE X system, with its integrated blade design, offers rack-level redundant power and cooling via air, warm water or cold water, for enhanced reliability and availability. The result is a system with unmatched efficiency, performance and overall value.

AWE is installing two SGI ICE X M-Cell systems and a single ICE X D-Cell test system with a combined peak performance of 1.8 Petaflops (thousand trillion calculations per second). The SGI ICE X M-Cell Systems jointly utilise in excess of 8,000 Intel® Xeon® processors, specifically Ivy Bridge E5-2680 v2 2.8GHz (115w). Each system has a visualisation sub-system based on SGI® VizServer® and some High-Memory nodes for legacy applications. The Network is an FDR Infiniband® and the Storage is provided by 6 x DDN SFA12k delivering an aggregate performance of over 150GB/second via the Lustre parallel filesystem.

SGI ICE X is the only system in its class offering expandability within and across technology generations while maintaining uninterrupted production workflow, and is the only platform capable of seamless scalability from tens of Teraflops to tens of Petaflops.

AWE has been an SGI customer for over 10 years. AWE also leverages two SGI® Altix® UV 1000 systems to rapidly solve large memory engineering problems. These are used in addition to an SGI® Altix® XE500-based cluster used for visualisation and an SGI® Altix® 4700 blade-based supercomputer.

About the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE)
The Atomic Weapons Establishment has been central to the defence of the United Kingdom for more than 50 years through its provision and maintenance of the warheads for the country’s nuclear deterrent, Trident. The work undertaken at AWE covers the entire life cycle of nuclear warheads; from initial concept, assessment and design, through to component manufacture and assembly, in-service support, and decommissioning and disposal. Around 4,500 staff are employed at the AWE sites together with over 2,000 contractors. The workforce consists of scientists, engineers, technicians, crafts-people and safety specialists, as well as business and administrative experts - many of whom are leaders in their field. The AWE sites and facilities are government owned but the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has a government-owned contractor-operated contract with AWE Management Limited (AWE ML) to manage the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the UK’s nuclear stockpile. AWE ML is formed of three equal shareholders - Serco, Lockheed Martin and Jacobs Engineering Group. For further information, visit:

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Atomic Public Relations | Lisa Kennedy | (415) 593-1400 |

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