El Capitan

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

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How to Deliver on a Mission

Security defines Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s mission. It’s a sweeping responsibility, encompassing efforts from ensuring the safety of the U.S.’s nuclear deterrent to addressing threats posed to energy and environmental security.

For over 65 years, the lab has met this mission, applying science and technology to make the world safer. And since its inception, high-performance computing leadership has been fundamental to LLNL’s success.

Lawrence Livermore National Lab and Cray forged their initial HPC partnership in 1978 when the lab was among the first to install a Cray-1 supercomputer. Now, LLNL and Cray start a new ascent with El Capitan — the lab’s first exascale supercomputer. Built on Cray’s revolutionary Shasta™ supercomputing platform, El Capitan will have a performance of more than 1.5 quintillion calculations per second.

Coming in 2023, this system will become the U.S. Department of Energy’s third exascale-class supercomputer, joining its Shasta-based sisters Frontier and Aurora at the Oak Ridge and Argonne National Laboratories. Featuring a new system architecture, new interconnect, and new software platform, El Capitan is projected to run the lab’s nuclear security applications more than 7 times faster than today’s fastest supercomputer.

If security defines LLNL’s mission, then El Capitan redefines how they meet it.

Read the announcement for details on the El Capitan system.

El Capitan will allow us to be more responsive, innovative and forward-thinking when it comes to maintaining a nuclear deterrent that is second to none in a rapidly-evolving threat environment.

—Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, NNSA Administrator


El Capitan exascale system

The Science of Security

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is a multi-program national security laboratory under the National Nuclear Security Administration. As such, it has one directive: apply world-class science and technology to make the world a safer place. It may have a single directive, but it has many assignments. Chief among them is ensuring the safety, security, and reliability of the nation’s nuclear stockpile. Additionally, LLNL’s efforts encompass counterterrorism, nonproliferation, defense and intelligence, and energy and environmental security. El Capitan will be housed at LLNL’s state-of-the-art Livermore Computing Center.

El Capitan will allow our scientists and engineers to get answers to critical questions about the nuclear stockpile faster and more accurately than ever before, improving our efficiency and productivity, and enhancing our ability to reach our mission and national security goals.

—Bill Goldstein, Lab Director Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory


What One Quintillion Operations Per Second Means

Get past about one trillion and all those zeroes start to mean, well, zero. How do you even begin to understand the relative performance, speed, and power of one quintillion (1018) calculations — per second? Some researchers say an exaflops is equivalent to the human brain on the neural level in terms of processing power. Check out our infographic to wrap your own brain around the speed and power of Lawrence Livermore National Lab’s El Capitan supercomputer.

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Cray’s Shasta supercomputing architecture, Slingshot interconnect, and software platform form the foundation of El Capitan’s exascale capabilities.

Shasta Supercomputer

Cray’s new supercomputer, code-named Shasta, is an entirely new design and will underpin the next era of supercomputing. The system is characterized by exascale performance capability, new datacentric workloads, and an explosion of processor and accelerator architectures. Shasta incorporates next-generation Cray system software to enable modularity and extensibility, supports unparalleled flexibility in processing choice, and scales seamlessly.

Explore Shasta

Slingshot Interconnect

The Cray-designed Slingshot™ interconnect is the network backbone for the diverse simulation, modeling, AI, and analytics workloads today’s scientific and technological questions require. It offers a host of important new features such as adaptive routing, congestion control, and Ethernet compatibility.

Explore Slingshot Technology

Shasta Software Platform

Cray’s new, open, and extensible software platform addresses the growing need for supercomputing capability across government and private industry. It fuses supercomputing performance and capability with the modularity, composability, and ease-of-use of cloud computing, effectively answering today’s new class of digital transformation problems. This next-generation supercomputing software platform tackles key requirements, including application development and portability, management and monitoring, interoperability, and investment protection.

Explore the Shasta Software Platform

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