US Nuclear Arsenal Relies On A New Supercomputer


In Livermore, California, in a costly white-tiled room, there is Sierra, the world’s second-most-performant supercomputer. Sierra looks pretty much like a servers farm, but it’s nothing like that. And this news wouldn’t be so crucial for the world if Sierra would not become the machine that will control the US nuclear arsenal.

According to The Verge, Sierra is a massively connected hive of 190,000 processing cores, all together working to resolve the same tasks. Currently, this supercomputer is only used to run simulations such as astrophysics, climate models, and precision medicine simulations, allowing the researchers to calibrate the device, test its performance, and solve out any technical hiccups that might appear.

However, in 2019, Sierra supercomputer will commence its real job which would be to control the US nuclear arsenal. The whole system will be “air-gapped,” so it would not be connected with external networks or the Internet to avoid any unauthorized access from the exterior.

US Nuclear Arsenal Relies On A New Supercomputer

The final goal of the Sierra supercomputer would be to run calculations and simulations of nuclear weapons launches and detonations. What Sierra would simulate, however, is classified, so we don’t know (and probably we’ll never find out) what Sierra’s task would be in reality.

Since the Divider nuke, 50 years ago, the United States has not tested or designed new atomic bombs. However, as we know it already, the US did not disarm completely, and, according to some 2017 stats, the Americans have 4,000 nuclear warheads, while Russia owns about 4,300.

As nuclear testing is out of the question due to environmental protection policies, the US Department of Defense needed other solutions to check the effectiveness of the US nuclear arsenal which already exceeded its due term. That’s why Sierra supercomputer is essential for simulating atomic bombs launches and detonations.

Luckily, The Verge tech news portal was at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where the Sierra supercomputer is present, so they presented all that they’ve learned about it in a video:

Vadim Ioan Caraiman

With over seven years of experience in online journalism, Vadim is passionate about everything related to science and the environment. For us, he will thus cover climate, environment, and science news, among others.


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