The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has completed construction on the Exascale Computing Facility Modernization project at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

The facility is set to be home to what could become the world's most powerful supercomputer, El Capitan. Set to be delivered in early 2023, the system will feature AMD CPUs and GPUs and boast a peak performance of more than 2 exaflops.

El Capitan

The project upgraded the electrical and mechanical capabilities of the Livermore Computing Center, with new transmission lines, switches, and substations. Its electrical system has gone from being able to support 45MW to 85MW.

The 'Critical Decision-4' upgrade also more than doubled the cooling capacity of the site, so that it is now "capable of absorbing enough heat to melt 28,000 tons of ice in a day."

“We are pleased that this project has received approval for CD-4. It plays a vital role in supporting NNSA's goal of bringing a more advanced computing capability to the complex," Mike Lang, federal program manager for the Advanced Simulation and Computing program, said.

"Providing exascale computing capabilities to the NNSA enterprise starting in 2023 will aid the country's efforts in a significant, time-critical weapons modernization project and serve as evidence of the country's commitment to leadership in high-performance computing."

In 2020, Steve Scott, then-CTO of Cray's parent HPE, told DCD that the liquid-cooled system would have a power envelope between 30MW and 40MW, adding that the company expected the final figure to be "closer to 30MW."

The $600m El Capitan will be used to maintain the nuclear weapons stockpile, and virtually test future weaponry.

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