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  • richardmitnick 9:51 am on May 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NNSA, Sandia is planning another pair of launches this August.,   

    From Sandia Lab: “Sandia launches a bus into space” 

    From Sandia Lab

    May 23, 2019

    HOT SHOT sounding rocket program picks up flight pace.
    A sounding rocket designed and launched by Sandia National Laboratories lifts off from the Kauai Test Facility in Hawaii on April 24. (Photo by Mike Bejarano and Mark Olona)

    Sandia National Laboratories recently launched a bus into space. Not the kind with wheels that go round and round, but the kind of device that links electronic devices (a USB cable, short for “universal serial bus,” is one common example).

    The bus was among 16 total experiments aboard two sounding rockets that were launched as part of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s HOT SHOT program, which conducts scientific experiments and tests developing technologies on non-weaponized rockets. The respective flights took place on April 23 and April 24 at the Kauai Test Facility in Hawaii.

    The pair of flights marked an increase in the program’s tempo.

    “Sandia’s team was able to develop, fabricate, and launch two distinct payloads in less than 11 months,” said Nick Leathe, who oversaw the payload development. The last HOT SHOT flight — a single rocket launched in May 2018 — took 16 months to develop.

    Sandia, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Kansas City National Security Campus, and the U.K.-based Atomic Weapons Establishment provided experiments for this series of HOT SHOTs.

    The rockets also featured several improvements over the previous one launched last year, including new sensors to measure pressure, temperature, and acceleration. These additions provided researchers more details about the conditions their experiments endured while traveling through the atmosphere.

    The experimental bus, for example, was tested to find out whether components would be robust enough to operate during a rocket launch. The new technology was designed expressly for power distribution in national security applications and could make other electronic easier to upgrade. It includes Sandia-developed semiconductors and was made to withstand intense radiation.

    Sandia is planning another pair of launches this August. The name HOT SHOT comes from the term “high operational tempo,” which refers to the relatively high frequency of flights. A brisk flight schedule allows scientists and engineers to perform multiple tests in a highly specialized test environment in quick succession.

    For the recent flight tests, one Sandia team prepared two experiments, one for each flight, to observe in different ways the dramatic temperature and pressure swings that are normal in rocketry but difficult to reproduce on the ground. The researchers are aiming to improve software that models these conditions for national security applications, and they are now analyzing the flight data for discrepancies between what they observed and what their software predicted. Differences could lead to scientific insights that would help refine the program.

    Some experiments also studied potential further improvements for HOT SHOT itself, including additively manufactured parts that could be incorporated into future flights and instruments measuring rocket vibration.

    The sounding rockets are designed to achieve an altitude of about 1.2 million feet and to fly about 220 nautical miles down range into the Pacific Ocean. Sandia uses refurbished, surplus rocket engines, making these test flights more economical than conventional flight tests common at the end of a technology’s development.

    The HOT SHOT program enables accelerated cycles of learning for engineers and experimentalists. “Our goal is to take a 10-year process and truncate it to three years without losing quality in the resulting technologies. HOT SHOT is the first step in that direction,” said Todd Hughes, NNSA’s HOT SHOT Federal Program Manager.

    See the full article here .


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    Sandia Campus
    Sandia National Laboratory

    Sandia National Laboratories is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.


  • richardmitnick 1:26 pm on February 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Plasma Science and Fusion Center leads new Center of Excellence", awrence Livermore National Laboratory-NIF, , , , NNSA, ,   

    From MIT News: “Plasma Science and Fusion Center leads new Center of Excellence” 

    MIT News
    MIT Widget

    From MIT News

    February 25, 2019
    Paul Rivenberg

    Members of the the PSFC’s High-Energy-Density Physics division gather in their Accelerator Facility, part of the new Center of Excellence. Photo: Paul Rivenberg

    Gathered around the conference table are (clockwise from front left) Research Scientist Maria Gatu Johnson, Senior Research Scientist Johan Frenje, Research Scientist Fredrick Seguin, Senior Research Scientist Chikang Li, and HEDP Division Head Richard Petrasso. Photo: Paul Rivenberg

    Award will support educational and research efforts in high-energy-density physics at MIT and four academic research partners.

    The High-Energy-Density Physics (HEDP) division of MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC), along with four other universities, has been awarded a five-year, $10 million grant to establish a Stewardship Science Academic Alliances Center of Excellence. The PSFC will be the lead partner in the center, which includes the University of Iowa; the University of Nevada at Reno; the University of Rochester; and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

    The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) award will support educational and research missions across the partners. The goal of the newly established center is to generate exceptional experimental and theoretical PhDs in HEDP and inertial confinement fusion (ICF), while addressing issues of critical interest to the Department of Energy’s NNSA and national labs.

    Officially called the Center for Advanced Nuclear Diagnostics and Platforms for Inertial ICF and HEDP at Omega, NIF and Z, the center will focus on the properties of plasma under extreme conditions of temperature, density and pressure. Center partners will collaborate closely with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratory, the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, and General Atomics.

    U Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics


    MIT’s HEDP division has a long and established history of collaboration with these labs, regularly using Laser Energetics’s 30-kilojoule OMEGA laser, Lawrence Livermore’s National Ignition Facility, and Sandia’s Z machine to pursue a wide range of research, including inertial confinement fusion, nuclear science, and laboratory astrophysics. The division has used its Accelerator Facility to develop and characterize diagnostics for these machines, and as part of the new center will pursue new diagnostic techniques for advanced research.

    U Rochester Omega Laser

    National Ignition Facility at LLNL

    Sandia Z machine

    HEDP division head and Center of Excellence Director Richard Petrasso acknowledges the importance of this partnership.

    “The center is about our work in inertial confinement fusion, and also in laboratory astrophysics, simulating aspects of astrophysical phenomena, such as the jetting in the crab nebula,” Petrasso says. “There is lots of interesting physics that students and staff have been observing for years. This new center allows us, with our partners, to really expand our investigations.”

    PSFC Director Dennis Whyte observed that the new center is a recognition of the HEDP division’s excellence. Thanking the team for the exceptional work, under the encouragement of the senior leadership, he said, “Your work is one of the gems of the PSFC. This division produces outstanding, unique science, and with a mission that is critical to national security.”

    Launched in 2002, the Stewardship Science Academic Alliances Centers of Excellence program emphasizes areas of research that are relevant to NNSA’s stockpile stewardship mission, and promotes the education of the next generation of highly-trained nuclear scientists and engineers.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 4:34 pm on November 13, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Astra is one of the first supercomputers to use processors based on Arm technology, Astra the world’s fastest Arm-based supercomputer according to the TOP500 list, NNSA,   

    From Sandia Lab: “Astra supercomputer at Sandia Labs is fastest Arm-based machine on TOP500 list” 

    From Sandia Lab

    November 13, 2018
    Neal Singer

    HPE Vanguard Astra supercomputer with ARM technology

    HPE Vanguard Astra supercomputer with ARM technology

    Astra, the world’s fastest Arm-based supercomputer according to the TOP500 list, has achieved a speed of 1.529 petaflops, placing it 203rd on a ranking of top computers announced at The International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis SC18 conference in Dallas.

    Astra supercomputer

    The Astra supercomputer at Sandia National Laboratories, which runs on Arm processors, is the first result of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Vanguard program, tasked to explore emerging techniques in supercomputing. (Photo by Regina Valenzuela). Click on the thumbnail for a high-resolution image.

    A petaflop is a unit of computing speed equal to one thousand million million (1015) floating-point operations per second.

    Astra, housed at Sandia National Laboratories, achieved this speed on the High-Performance Linpack benchmark.

    The supercomputer is also ranked 36th on the High-Performance Conjugate Gradients benchmark, co-developed by Sandia and the University of Tennessee Knoxville, with a performance of 66.942 teraflops. (One thousand teraflops equals 1 petaflop.)

    The latter test uses computational and data access patterns that more closely match the simulation codes used by the National Nuclear Security Administration.

    Astra is one of the first supercomputers to use processors based on Arm technology. The machine’s success means the supercomputing industry may have found a new potential supplier of supercomputer processors, since Arm designs are available for licensing.

    Arm processors previously had been used exclusively for low-power mobile computers, including cell phones and tablets. A single Astra node is roughly one hundred times faster than a modern Arm-based cell phone, and Astra has 2,592 nodes.

    “These preliminary results demonstrate that Arm-based processors are competitive for high-performance computing. They also position Astra as the world leader in this architecture category,” said Sandia computer architect James Laros, Astra project lead. “We expect to improve on these benchmark results and demonstrate the applicability of this architecture for NNSA’s mission codes at supercomputer scale.”

    Less than a month after hardware delivery and system installation, Astra reached its first goal of running programs concurrently on thousands of nodes.

    The next steps include transferring mission codes to Astra from existing architectures used to support the NNSA mission. While this step can be challenging for Astra’s new architecture and compilers, the real effort will likely involve a continuous cycle of performance analysis, optimization and scalability studies, which evaluate performance on larger and larger node counts to achieve the best possible performance on this architecture.

    “We expect that the additional memory bandwidth provided by this node architecture will lead to additional performance on our mission codes, which are traditionally memory bandwidth limited,” said Laros. “We ultimately need to answer the question: is this architecture viable to support our mission needs?”

    The Astra supercomputer is itself the first deployment of Sandia’s larger Vanguard program. Vanguard is tasked to evaluate the viability of emerging high-performance computing technologies in support of the NNSA’s mission to maintain and enhance the safety, security and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear stockpile.

    Astra was built and integrated by Hewlett Packard Enterprises, and is comprised of 5,184 Cavium ThunderX2 central processing units, each with 28 processing cores based on the Arm V8 64-bit core architecture. “While being the fastest in the world is not the goal of Astra or the Vanguard program in general,” said Laros, “Astra is indeed the fastest Arm-based supercomputer today.”

    See the full article here .


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    Sandia Campus
    Sandia National Laboratory

    Sandia National Laboratories is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

  • richardmitnick 8:42 am on October 22, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: High Operational Tempo Sounding Rocket Program, , NNSA,   

    From Sandia Lab: “Sandia delivers first DOE sounding rocket program since 1990s” 

    From Sandia Lab

    October 22, 2018
    Troy Rummler,

    The first HOT SHOT flight, shown here, launched from Sandia’s Kauai Test Facility in Hawaii. (Video by Mike Bejarano and Mark Olona) Click here to download the video

    A new rocket program could help cut research and development time for new weapons systems from as many as 15 years to less than five.

    Sandia National Laboratories developed the new program, called the High Operational Tempo Sounding Rocket Program, or HOT SHOT, and integrated it for its first launch earlier this year under the National Nuclear Security Administration’s direction.

    The first HOT SHOT rocket launched from Sandia’s Kauai Test Facility in Hawaii in May, marking the first time DOE has used rockets carrying scientific instruments, also known as sounding rockets, since the 1990s. Sandia is planning four launches next year.

    HOT SHOT launches comparatively inexpensive sounding rockets carrying scientific experiments and prototypes of missile technology. The flight data help researchers improve technologies, validate that they are ready for use and deploy them faster than with conventional validation techniques. In turn, NNSA is equipped to respond quickly to emerging national security needs. The program also supports a tailored and flexible approach to deterrence, as outlined in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review.

    The flights prove whether prototype missile components — from an onboard computer to a structural bracket — can function in the intense turbulence, heat and vibration a missile experiences in flight.

    Conventional vs. HOT SHOT

    The Department of Defense also provides such confirmation with a conventional missile test following rigorous DOE studies and simulations on the ground. But by that point, the chance to significantly modify a component has largely passed. Until now, the DOD flight tests have been virtually the only way to get a clear picture of how new components fare in flight.

    “It was a really difficult problem,” Sandia mechanical engineer Greg Tipton said. “It’s hard to imitate the same vibrations and forces a rocket experiences in flight on the ground.”

    Sandia’s large-scale environmental testing facilities can mechanically shake objects back and forth and spin them at high speeds to mimic a flight experience. But for a stress-like vibration, HOT SHOT provides a much closer simulation. Other stresses, such as heat from re-entry or the simultaneous combined environments experienced in flight, simply don’t have accurate models or ground test methods researchers can use.

    “HOT SHOT fills a hole between ground testing and missile testing,” said Olga Spahn, manager of the department at Sandia responsible for payload integration for the program. “It gives researchers the flexibility to develop technology and see how it handles a flight environment at a relatively low cost.”

    Multiple scientific payloads fly on each HOT SHOT flight launched by Sandia National Laboratories, as illustrated here. (Image by Sandia National Laboratories)

    The test data also will help engineers like Tipton design more realistic ground tests, something industries from automobile to aerospace are also earnestly researching.

    Flexible test drives innovation

    HOT SHOT will not replace DOD flight tests. However, it does use comparatively simple, two-stage sounding rockets built from surplus inventory motors to recreate the flight environment of their more expensive cousins, which can cost tens of millions of dollars to fly.

    The cost of a traditional flight test has made exploring some new ideas prohibitively expensive.

    “By the time we’re flying with DOD, the technology had better work. There’s no room for failure,” said Kate Helean, deputy director for technology maturation at Sandia.

    An NNSA facility or a partner institution now can test its technologies with HOT SHOT and risk much less if it fails. Sandia and Kansas City National Security Campus provided experiments for the first launch. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and United Kingdom-based Atomic Weapons Establishment will join them with tests on the next flight.

    Sandia designed HOT SHOT as a low-risk program to encourage exploration and creativity, which further augment NNSA’s ability to adapt weapons systems to urgent needs.

    “We really want to be leaning into new and innovative ideas, and that means we have to tolerate failure early when the technology is being tested,” Helean said.

    Inside each sounding rocket, dedicated research space is divided into decks, each with its own electrical and data ports to accommodate separate, even unrelated experiments.

    Sandia plans to conduct multiple launches each year, so researchers will have opportunities to test multiple versions of the same technology in relatively rapid succession. Internal instruments monitor the experiments and prototypes and send back real-time measurements to engineers on the ground.

    “We provide the payload integration and ride; they provide the experiments for the payload,” Spahn said.

    See the full article here .


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    Sandia Campus
    Sandia National Laboratory

    Sandia National Laboratories is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

  • richardmitnick 7:08 am on July 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , NNSA   

    From Exascale Computing Project: “ECP Announces New Co-Design Center to Focus on Exascale Machine Learning Technologies” 

    From Exascale Computing Project


    The Exascale Computing Project has initiated its sixth Co-Design Center, ExaLearn, to be led by Principal Investigator Francis J. Alexander, Deputy Director of the Computational Science Initiative at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory.

    Francis J. Alexander. BNL

    ExaLearn is a co-design center for Exascale Machine Learning (ML) Technologies and is a collaboration initially consisting of experts from eight multipurpose DOE labs.

    Brookhaven National Laboratory (Francis J. Alexander)
    Argonne National Laboratory (Ian Foster)
    Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Peter Nugent)
    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Brian van Essen)
    Los Alamos National Laboratory (Aric Hagberg)
    Oak Ridge National Laboratory (David Womble)
    Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (James Ang)
    Sandia National Laboratories (Michael Wolf)

    Rapid growth in the amount of data and computational power is driving a revolution in machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). Beyond the highly visible successes in machine-based natural language translation, these new ML technologies have profound implications for computational and experimental science and engineering and the exascale computing systems that DOE is deploying to support those disciplines.

    To address these challenges, the ExaLearn co-design center will provide exascale ML software for use by ECP Applications projects, other ECP Co-Design Centers and DOE experimental facilities and leadership class computing facilities. The ExaLearn Co-Design Center will also collaborate with ECP PathForward vendors on the development of exascale ML software.

    The timeliness of ExaLearn’s proposed work ties into the critical national need to enhance economic development through science and technology. It is increasingly clear that advances in learning technologies have profound societal implications and that continued U.S. economic leadership requires a focused effort, both to increase the performance of those technologies and to expand their applications. Linking exascale computing and learning technologies represents a timely opportunity to address those goals.

    The practical end product will be a scalable and sustainable ML software framework that allows application scientists and the applied mathematics and computer science communities to engage in co-design for learning. The new knowledge and services to be provided by ExaLearn are imperative for the nation to remain competitive in computational science and engineering by making effective use of future exascale systems.

    “Our multi-laboratory team is very excited to have the opportunity to tackle some of the most important challenges in machine learning at the exascale,” Alexander said. “There is, of course, already a considerable investment by the private sector in machine learning. However, there is still much more to be done in order to enable advances in very important scientific and national security work we do at the Department of Energy. I am very happy to lead this effort on behalf of our collaborative team.”

    See the full article here.


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    About ECP

    The ECP is a collaborative effort of two DOE organizations – the Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration. As part of the National Strategic Computing initiative, ECP was established to accelerate delivery of a capable exascale ecosystem, encompassing applications, system software, hardware technologies and architectures, and workforce development to meet the scientific and national security mission needs of DOE in the early-2020s time frame.

    About the Office of Science

    DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit https://science.energy.gov/.

    About NNSA

    Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the DOE responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear explosive testing; works to reduce the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the United States and abroad. https://nnsa.energy.gov

    The Goal of ECP’s Application Development focus area is to deliver a broad array of comprehensive science-based computational applications that effectively utilize exascale HPC technology to provide breakthrough simulation and data analytic solutions for scientific discovery, energy assurance, economic competitiveness, health enhancement, and national security.

    Awareness of ECP and its mission is growing and resonating—and for good reason. ECP is an incredible effort focused on advancing areas of key importance to our country: economic competiveness, breakthrough science and technology, and national security. And, fortunately, ECP has a foundation that bodes extremely well for the prospects of its success, with the demonstrably strong commitment of the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the talent of some of America’s best and brightest researchers.

    ECP is composed of about 100 small teams of domain, computer, and computational scientists, and mathematicians from DOE labs, universities, and industry. We are tasked with building applications that will execute well on exascale systems, enabled by a robust exascale software stack, and supporting necessary vendor R&D to ensure the compute nodes and hardware infrastructure are adept and able to do the science that needs to be done with the first exascale platforms.

  • richardmitnick 9:05 pm on March 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , NNSA, , ,   

    From LLNL: “Breaking the Law: Lawrence Livermore, Department of Energy look to shatter Moore’s Law through quantum computing” 

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    March 19, 2018
    Jeremy Thomas

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory physicist Jonathan DuBois, who heads the Lab’s Quantum Coherent Device Physics (QCDP) group, examines a prototype quantum computing device designed to solve quantum simulation problems. The device is kept inside a refrigerated vacuum tube (gold-plated to provide solid thermal matching) at temperatures colder than outer space. Photos by Carrie Martin/LLNL.

    The laws of quantum physics impact daily life in rippling undercurrents few people are aware of, from the batteries in our smartphones to the energy generated from solar panels. As the Department of Energy and its national laboratories explore the frontiers of quantum science, such as calculating the energy levels of a single atom or how molecules fit together, more powerful tools are a necessity.

    “The problem basically gets worse the larger the physical system gets — if you get beyond a simple molecule we have no way of resolving those kinds of energy differences,” said Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) physicist Jonathan DuBois, who heads the Lab’s Quantum Coherent Device Physics (QCDP) group. “From a physics perspective, we’re getting more and more amazing, highly controlled physics experiments, and if you tried to simulate what they were doing on a classical computer, it’s almost at the point where it would be kind of impossible.”

    In classical computing, Moore’s Law postulates that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. However, there are indications that Moore’s Law is slowing down and will eventually hit a wall. That’s where quantum computing comes in. Besides busting through the barriers of Moore’s Law, some are banking on quantum computing as the next evolutionary step in computers. It’s on the priority list for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) program,,which is investigating quantum computing, among other emerging technologies, through its “Beyond Moore’s Law” project. At LLNL, staff scientists DuBois and Eric Holland are leading the effort to develop a comprehensive co-design strategy for near-term application of quantum computing technology to outstanding grand challenge problems in the NNSA mission space.

    Whereas the desktop computers we’re all familiar with store information in binary forms of either a 1 or a zero (on or off), in a quantum system, information can be stored in superpositions, meaning that for a brief moment, mere nanoseconds, data in a quantum bit can exist as either one or zero before being projected into a classical binary state. Theoretically, these machines could solve certain complex problems much faster than any computers ever created before. While classical computers perform functions in serial (generating one answer at a time), quantum computers could potentially perform functions and store data in a highly parallelized way, exponentially increasing speed, performance and storage capacity.

    LLNL recently brought on line a full capability quantum computing lab and testbed facility under the leadership of quantum coherent device group member Eric Holland. Researchers are performing tests on a prototype quantum device birthed under the Lab’s Quantum Computing Strategic Initiative. The initiative, now in its third year, is funded by Laboratory Directed Research & Development (LDRD) and aims to design, fabricate, characterize and build quantum coherent devices. The building and demonstration piece is made possible by DOE’s Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR), a program managed by DOE’s Office of Science that is actively engaged in exploring if and how quantum computation could be useful for DOE applications.

    LLNL researchers are developing algorithms for solving quantum simulation problems on the prototype device, which looks deceptively simple and very strange. It’s a cylindrical metal box, with a sapphire chip suspended in it. The box is kept inside a refrigerated vacuum tube (gold-plated to provide solid thermal matching) at temperatures colder than outer space — negative 460 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s highly superconductive and faces zero resistance in the vacuum, thus extending the lifetime of the superposition state.

    “It’s a perfect electrical conductor, so if you can send an excitation inside here, you’ll get electromagnetic (EM) modes inside the box,” DuBois explained. “We’re using the space inside the box, the quantized EM fields, to store and manipulate quantum information, and the little chip couples to fields and manipulates them, determining the fine splitting in energies between different quantum states. These energy differences are what you use to make changes in quantum space.”

    To “talk” to the box, researchers are using an arbitrary wave form generator, which creates an oscillating signal– the timing of the signal determines what computation is being done in system. DuBois said the physicists are essentially building a quantum solver for Schrödinger’s equation, the bases for almost all physics and the determining factor for the dynamics of a quantum computing system.

    “It turns out that’s actually very hard to solve, and the bigger the system is, the size of what you need to keep track of blows up exponentially,” DuBois said. “The argument here is we can build a system that does that naturally — nature is basically keeping track of all those degrees of freedom for us, and so if we can control it carefully we can get it to basically emulate the quantum dynamics of some problem we’re interested in, a charge transfer in quantum chemistry or biology problem or scattering problem in nuclear physics.”

    Finding out how the device will work is part of the mission of DOE’s Advanced Quantum-Enabled Simulation (AQuES) Testbed Pathfinder program, which is analyzing several different approaches to creating a functional, useful quantum computer for basic science and use in areas such as determining nuclear scattering rates, the electronic structure in molecules or condensed matter or understanding the energy levels in solar panels. In 2017, DOE awarded $1.5 million over three years to a team including DuBois and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory physicists Irfan Siddiqi and Jonathan Carter. The team wants to determine the underlying technology for a quantum system, develop a practical, usable quantum computer and build quantum capabilities at the national labs to solve real-world problems.

    The science of quantum computing, according to DuBois, is “at a turning point.” Within the three-year timeframe, he said, the team should be able to assess what type of quantum system is worth pursuing as a testbed system. The researchers first want to demonstrate control over a quantum computer and solve specific quantum dynamics problems. Then, they want to set up a user facility or cloud-based system that any user could log into and solve complex quantum physics problems.

    “There are multiple competing approaches to quantum computing; trapping ions, semiconducting systems, etc., and all have their quirks — none of them are really at the point where it’s actually a quantum computer,” DuBois said. “The hardware side, which is what this is, the question is, ‘what are the first technologies that we can deploy that will help bridge the gap between what actually exists in the lab and how people are thinking of these systems as theoretical objects?'”

    Quantum computers have come a long way since the first superconducting quantum bit, or “qubit,” was created in 1999. In last nearly 20 years, quantum systems have improved exponentially, evidenced by the life span of the qubit’s superposition, or how long it takes the qubit to decay into 0 or 1. In 1999 that figure was a nanosecond. Currently, systems are up to tens to hundreds of milliseconds, which may not sound like much, but every year, the lifetime of the quantum bit has doubled.

    For the Testbed project, LLNL’s first generation quantum device will be roughly 20 qubits, DuBois said, large enough to be interesting, but small enough to be useful. A system of that size could potentially reduce the time it takes for most current supercomputing systems to perform quantum dynamics calculations from about a day down to mere microseconds, DuBois said. To get to that point, LLNL and LBNL physicists will need to understand how to design systems that can extend the quantum state.

    “It needs to last long enough to be quantum and it needs to be controllable,” DuBois said. “There’s a spectrum to that; the bigger the space is, the more powerful it has to be. Then there’s how controllable it would be. The finest level of control would be to change the value to anything I want. That’s what we’re aiming for, but there’s a competition involved. We want to hit that sweet spot.”

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 12:44 pm on March 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ECP LANL Cray XC 40 Trinity supercomputer, , NNSA,   

    From ECP: What is Exascale Computing and Why Do We Need It? 

    Exascale Computing Project

    Los Alamos National Lab

    The Trinity supercomputer, with both Xeon Haswell and the Xeon Phi Knights Landing processors, is the seventh fastest supercomputer on the TOP 500 list, and number three on the High Performance Conjugate Gradients Benchmark project.

    Meeting national security science challenges with reliable computing

    As part of the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI), the Exascale Computing Project (ECP) was established to develop a capable exascale ecosystem, encompassing applications, system software, hardware technologies and architectures, and workforce development to meet the scientific and national security mission needs of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in the mid-2020s time frame.

    The goal of ECP is to deliver breakthrough modeling and simulation solutions that analyze more data in less time, providing insights and answers to the most critical U.S. challenges in scientific discovery, energy assurance, economic competitiveness and national security.

    The Trinity Supercomputer at Los Alamos National Laboratory was recently named as a top 10 supercomputer on two lists: it made number three on the High Performance Conjugate Gradients (HPCG) Benchmark project, and is number seven on the TOP500 list.

    “Trinity has already made unique contributions to important national security challenges, and we look forward to Trinity having a long tenure as one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world.” said John Sarrao, associate director for Theory, Simulation and Computation at Los Alamos.

    Trinity, a Cray XC40 supercomputer at the Laboratory, was recently upgraded with Intel “Knights Landing” Xeon Phi processors, which propelled it from 8.10 petaflops six months ago to 14.14 petaflops.

    The Trinity Supercomputer Phase II project was completed during the summer of 2017, and the computer became fully operational during an unclassified “open science” run; it has now transitioned to classified mode. Trinity is designed to provide increased computational capability for the National Nuclear Security Agency in support of increasing geometric and physics fidelities in nuclear weapons simulation codes, while maintaining expectations for total time to solution.

    The capabilities of Trinity are required for supporting the NNSA Stockpile Stewardship program’s certification and assessments to ensure that the nation’s nuclear stockpile is safe, secure and effective.

    The Trinity project is managed and operated by Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories under the Alliance for Computing at Extreme Scale (ACES) partnership. The system is located at the Nicholas Metropolis Center for Modeling and Simulation at Los Alamos and covers approximately 5,200 square feet of floor space.

    See the full article here .

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    What is exascale computing?
    Exascale computing refers to computing systems capable of at least one exaflop or a billion billion calculations per second (1018). That is 50 times faster than the most powerful supercomputers being used today and represents a thousand-fold increase over the first petascale computer that came into operation in 2008. How we use these large-scale simulation resources is the key to solving some of today’s most pressing problems, including clean energy production, nuclear reactor lifetime extension and nuclear stockpile aging.

    The Los Alamos role

    In the run-up to developing exascale systems, at Los Alamos we will be taking the lead on a co-design center, the Co-Design Center for Particle-Based Methods: From Quantum to Classical, Molecular to Cosmological. The ultimate goal is the creation of scalable open exascale software platforms suitable for use by a variety of particle-based simulations.

    Los Alamos is leading the Exascale Atomistic capability for Accuracy, Length and Time (EXAALT) application development project. EXAALT will develop a molecular dynamics simulation platform that will fully utilize the power of exascale. The platform will allow users to choose the point in accuracy, length or time-space that is most appropriate for the problem at hand, trading the cost of one over another. The EXAALT project will be powerful enough to address a wide range of materials problems. For example, during its development, EXAALT will examine the degradation of UO2 fission fuel and plasma damage in tungsten under fusion first-wall conditions.

    In addition, Los Alamos and partnering organizations will be involved in key software development proposals that cover many components of the software stack for exascale systems, including programming models and runtime libraries, mathematical libraries and frameworks, tools, lower-level system software, data management and I/O, as well as in situ visualization and data analysis.

    A collaboration of partners

    ECP is a collaborative effort of two DOE organizations—the Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). DOE formalized this long-term strategic effort under the guidance of key leaders from six DOE and NNSA National Laboratories: Argonne, Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge and Sandia. The ECP leads the formalized project management and integration processes that bridge and align the resources of the DOE and NNSA laboratories, allowing them to work with industry more effectively.

  • richardmitnick 4:28 pm on July 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , NNSA, , Trinity supercomputer   

    From HPC Wire: “Trinity Supercomputer’s Haswell and KNL Partitions Are Merged” 

    HPC Wire

    July 19, 2017
    No writer credit found

    LANL Cray XC30 Trinity supercomputer

    Trinity supercomputer’s two partitions – one based on Intel Xeon Haswell processors and the other on Xeon Phi Knights Landing – have been fully integrated are now available for use on classified work in the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)’s Stockpile Stewardship Program, according to an announcement today. The KNL partition had been undergoing testing and was available for non-classified science work.

    “The main benefit of doing open science was to find any remaining issues with the system hardware and software before Trinity is turned over for production computing in the classified environment,” said Trinity project director Jim Lujan. “In addition, some great science results were realized,” he said. “Knights Landing is a multicore processor that has 68 compute cores on one piece of silicon, called a die. This allows for improved electrical efficiency that is vital for getting to exascale, the next frontier of supercomputing, and is three times as power-efficient as the Haswell processors,” Archer noted.

    The Trinity project is managed and operated by Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories under the New Mexico Alliance for Computing at Extreme Scale (ACES) partnership.

    In June 2017, the ACES team took the classified Trinity-Haswell system down and merged it with the KNL partition. The full system, sited at LANL, was back up for production use the first week of July.

    The Knights Landing processors were accepted for use in December 2016 and since then they have been used for open science work in the unclassified network, permitting nearly unprecedented large-scale science simulations. Presumably the merge is the last step in the Trinity contract beyond maintenance.

    Trinity, based on a Cray XC30, now has 301,952 Xeon and 678, 912 Xeon Phi processors along with two pebibytes (PiB) of memory. Besides blending the Haswell and KNL processors, Trinity benefits from the introduction of solid state storage (burst buffers). This is changing the ratio of disk and tape necessary to satisfy bandwidth and capacity requirements, and it drastically improves the usability of the systems for application input/output. With its new solid-state storage burst buffer and capacity-based campaign storage, Trinity enables users to iterate more frequently, ultimately reducing the amount of time to produce a scientific result.


    “With this merge completed, we have now successfully released one of the most capable supercomputers in the world to the Stockpile Stewardship Program,” said Bill Archer, Los Alamos Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) program director. “Trinity will enable unprecedented calculations that will directly support the mission of the national nuclear security laboratories, and we are extremely excited to be able to deliver this capability to the complex.”

    Trinity Timeline:

    June 2015, Trinity first arrived at Los Alamos, Haswell partition installation began.
    February 12 to April 8, 2016, approximately 60 days of computing access made available for open science using the Haswell-only partition.
    June 2016, Knights Landing components of Trinity began installation.
    July 5, 2016, Trinity’s classified side began serving the Advanced Technology Computing Campaign (ATCC-1)
    February 8, 2017, Trinity Open Science (unclassified) early access shakeout began on the Knights Landing partition before integration with the Haswell partition in the classified network.
    July 2017, Intel Haswell and Intel Knights Landing partitions were merged, transitioning to classified computing.

    See the full article here .

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    HPCwire is the #1 news and information resource covering the fastest computers in the world and the people who run them. With a legacy dating back to 1987, HPC has enjoyed a legacy of world-class editorial and topnotch journalism, making it the portal of choice selected by science, technology and business professionals interested in high performance and data-intensive computing. For topics ranging from late-breaking news and emerging technologies in HPC, to new trends, expert analysis, and exclusive features, HPCwire delivers it all and remains the HPC communities’ most reliable and trusted resource. Don’t miss a thing – subscribe now to HPCwire’s weekly newsletter recapping the previous week’s HPC news, analysis and information at: http://www.hpcwire.com.

  • richardmitnick 1:17 pm on February 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Entrepreneurs’ Hall of Fame, From Idea to Startup: Lawrence Livermore’s Tech Transfer, Google Earth, , NNSA, Propel(x), Roger Werne Deputy Director of Industrial Partnerships Office   

    From LLNL: “From Idea to Startup: Lawrence Livermore’s Tech Transfer” 

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    Each and every one of us has been touched by our national lab system in more ways than we realize. That’s especially the case with the Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL), whose innovations and cutting edge technologies continue to impact us in surprising ways. They help us parallel park and make our cars safer via crash simulation. They fund satellite imagery of the world around us (does Google Earth ring a bell?). All of these innovations were created by scientists and engineers from LLNL — a lab that boasts an Entrepreneur’s Hall of Fame. Propel(x) had the chance to discuss the triumphs and opportunities that reside in the lab with Roger Werne, Deputy Director of Industrial Partnerships Office, of this technological pioneering lab.

    Propel(x): Talk to us about the founding and the charter of the Lawrence Livermore National Lab.

    Werne: Livermore was founded in September of 1952 as the second nuclear weapons design lab, Los Alamos being the first, to support the nuclear weapons capabilities of the United States. In more recent years, we have become a national security laboratory. This means that we do the R&D necessary for the federal government to implement national security policy. But, nuclear deterrence, or what’s called the stockpile stewardship program — which is the maintenance and upkeep of the nuclear weapons program of the United States — is still our number one mission. Essentially, any problem the United States has that involves science and technology with a national security flavor tends to be within our mission space. We’re about 6,500 employees right now, with a budget of around $1.7 billion for fiscal year ’17.

    Propel(x): Are the LLNL’s technology transfer efforts tied to the original mission?

    It is the formal mission of the laboratory to take whatever technologies are invented in the course of our national security mission , and get them into the hands of the private sector in order to create value for the US economy. So we do research for purposes of national security, and some of that research has commercial value. It is my job as part of the Industrial Partnerships Office to get technology and know-how out the door, and into the hands of private industry. In this process we deal with large and small companies which are looking for know-how or new technology to license and start-up companies which are looking for a new technology to solve a market-based problem.

    Propel(x): Can you give us few examples of commercial successes?

    Werne: We’ve chronicled our commercial successes through what we call the Entrepreneurs’ Hall of Fame here at Livermore. It includes 19 members who did their early training and development at the laboratory and then transferred their technology to the private sector, which usually led to the building of successful companies. For example, in the mid-80s, John Hallquist developed a computer software code , named DYNA3D. This software modeled the bending, folding, and collapse of metal structures better than anything else available at the time and the automobile industry picked up on this software as a way to do crash simulation. John Hallquist left Livermore and formed a company called Livermore Software Technology Corporation. He commercialized DYNA3D as LS-DYNA, which allows for calculations rather than experiments to evaluate automobile safety under collision conditions. And that code has become the standard in the world for automobile crash simulation. It saves the automobile industry billions of dollars a year in terms of avoided costs. LS-DYNA and Livermore Software Technology Corporation are the pioneers in that field in the entire world.

    Another example involves Walter Scott, a scientist who worked on satellite technology while at LLNL , and concluded that there would be commercial value in satellite imagery looking back down at the Earth yielding valuable information about everything from asset location to crop- information. . He cofounded a company called DigitalGlobe which now provides the imagery for Google Earth.

    Another technology developed at Livermore was Chromosome Painting, which is a molecular diagnostic technique utilizing labeled DNA probes to detect or confirm chromosome abnormalities. It enables the healthcare industry to diagnose and screen to various type of cancer. Chromosome Painting was licensed and commercialized by a series of companies named Imagenetics, Vysis, and now Abbott , and today it is a significant tool in the medical technology quiver. Furthermore, Livermore, Los Alamos, and Lawrence Berkeley, pioneered the human genome program back in the 80s, and Livermore developed tools to characterize chromosome 19. The three Labs can lay legitimate claim to having pioneered the human Genome program.

    Finally, we have a technology called micro-impulse radar, which is a very small, inexpensive radar system that was developed by Tom McEwan an LLNL engineer. It can measure the relative distance and speed between two moving objects very rapidly. LLNL licensed that technology to over 40 companies in a variety of markets including automotive and today, whenever you see an automobile that’s got collision avoidance warning on it or automatic parallel parking, that’s probably the “grandchild” of the Livermore technology. It’s been in the private sector for about 25 years now, and it has revolutionized the safety of automobiles.

    Propel(x): Let’s talk about a newer start-up that we both have connections to called SafeTraces (Note: SafeTraces is a Propel(x) alumnus company).

    Werne: SafeTraces is based on a technology that we call a DNA barcode. It was originally developed for the Department of Homeland Security and is basically a sugar substance with a known DNA signature. It’s being developed by SafeTraces to track our food supply from field to table to ensure food safety. For example, let’s say you are a farmer growing cantaloupes. Each cantaloupe would be sprayed with the DNA barcode in the field. You record the DNA signature for that particular location on that particular product. You then take that product to the marketplace. If there’s ever a problem that arises you can take a sample off of the skin of that cantaloupe and trace it back to where it came from. You can trace its entire history from field to countertop and know exactly what happened to it and where. It currently takes weeks or months to trace a food product back to it’s source. Being able to trace them back to their source rapidly, which is what you can do with SafeTraces, is a significant benefit to the food products industry and to the consumer(http://www.safetraces.com/).

    Propel(x): How do entrepreneurs who are interested in licensing LLNL IP get started?

    Werne: Livermore has raw technology, usually in the form of licensable patents, and we can license those patents to a company, either exclusively or non-exclusively. In working with a company, there are two things we do, i.e. negotiate business terms and conditions for licenses to transfer technology , and cooperative research and development agreements or CRADAs, , which are cooperative research with the private sector, to transfer knowledge and know-how. If an entrepreneur has a particular need for a technology and they want to look at a what Livermore has developed, they can go to our website,https://ipo.llnl.gov/ , and contact one of our Business Development Executives will help them figure out what is relevant to their needs. Then we can invite them to the laboratory, to have more detailed discussions. After discussions, if they are still interested they can begin licensing negotiations. To us, a successful technology transfer is a license or a cooperative research and development agreement which helps transfer our technology or know-how to the private sector.

    Propel(x): What’s the ideal relationship between an entrepreneur and a LLNL scientist at the root of an innovation?

    Werne: An experienced business entrepreneur from the outside — who understands how to develop a company and product and how to attract capital for financing — paired with a Livermore scientist who is the expert on the technology, is the most successful combination for starting a company. For example, when forming a new company, the outside experienced business professional might be the CEO, and the Livermore scientist might be the CTO, and it’s the combination of the two plus some capital from the investment community that is the beginning of a potentially successful company.

    Propel(x): Speaking of capital, how do you work with angel investors and VCs, and what would you like to communicate to them about your efforts?

    Werne: It’s that early stage — from starting the company to the very first investments — that is the critical part for us, and that’s where the angel community comes in, because the angel community tends to be a little more tolerant and willing to put their money down at a much earlier stage in a company’s maturity. We’re searching for angel investors who are a bit daring and an entrepreneur who’s got a vision and knows the market. And then we’ll try to provide a technology and an individual who can carry the technology forward into a product that will have commercial value.

    Propel(x): Lawrence Livermore has had a tremendous impact globally in its technology, and the past has been successful, so we’re wondering how you see the future unfolding and where Lawrence Livermore is going to have tremendous impact in the next 20 years?

    Werne: Livermore has been prominent in high-performance computing over the years. An example of this is the automobile crash simulation that I talked about earlier. It solved a real problem and has had a significant impact on the automobile industry. Furthermore,Computer tools used to help decode the human genome were developed at the national labs as well. From those early days, the field of bioinformatics has evolved which brings significant computing power developed at the Labs to identify pathogens based on genetic comparisons. These tools are being acquired by the private sector and will be further developed and accelerated to improve human health. Over all the national Labs want to transfer our knowledge of high-performance computing to the private sector to maintain U.S. competitiveness. The rest of the world has figured out that high-performance computing is important as well, so it’s going to be a bit of a horse race in that respect.

    The other area where I think we’re going to contribute is nanotechnology and additive manufacturing. The laboratories are significantly involved in additive manufacturing and other forms of microtechnology and nanotechnology in which there will be significant market capabilities developed. But which problems in manufacturing they will actually solve is an open question at this time. Trying to predict what a market need will be 5 or 10 years into the future is extremely difficult. So we develop the technology, present it to the private sector, and then it’s their job to figure out where it might be useful in terms of future applications. We need to know a little bit about the market and the market needs to know a little bit about us, and that’s one of my jobs, to make sure the market knows a little bit about us.

    Propel(x): Is there anything else you would like the readers to know about the Lawrence Livermore National Lab?

    Werne: LLNL, and all of the national labs, are open for business. One of our entrepreneurial advisors, Bob Tilman, who was cofounder of Digital Globe with Walter Scott, called Livermore a “Business friendly technology giant.” I want that to always be true. We are constantly trying to get our technologies in front of the people in the private sector. They understand markets, we understand technologies, and when it comes to finding a technology that will meet a market need, we may be able to help. Technology transfer is a shoulder to shoulder business with a company. You’ve got to be talking constantly and exchanging ideas and needs and capabilities so that somewhere along the line someone will say ,”You know, I think that might work.” And that might be the beginning of something good.

    See the full article here .

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    Operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security
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  • richardmitnick 1:02 pm on July 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A new twist on data storage - DNA, , NNSA,   

    From Sandia: “A new twist on data storage” 

    Sandia Lab

    July 07, 2016

    SANDIA BIOENGINEERS Marlene and George Bachand show off their new method for encrypting and storing sensitive information in DNA. Digital data storage degrades and can become obsolete and old-school books and paper require lots of space. (Photo by Lonnie Anderson)

    Z machine, just one of Sandia’s research and test facilities, generates 100-200 gigabytes of data per year. That is a lot of digital data to inscribe on hard drives or beam up to the “cloud.”

    Sandia Z machine
    Sandia Z machine

    George Bachand (1132), a bioengineer at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnology, is exploring a better, more permanent method for encrypting and storing classified data: DNA. Compared to digital and analog information storage, DNA is more compact, more durable, and never becomes obsolete. Readable DNA was extracted from the 600,000-year-old remains of a horse found in the Yukon.

    Seven miles of bookshelves

    Tape- and disk-based data storage degrades and can become obsolete, requiring rewriting every decade or so. Cloud- or server-based storage requires a vast amount of electricity; in 2011 Google’s server farms used enough electricity to power 200,000 US homes. Furthermore, old-school methods require lots and lots of space. IBM estimated that 1,000 gigabytes of information in book form would take up seven miles of bookshelves. In fact, Sandia recently completed a 15,000-square-foot building to store 35,000 boxes of inactive records and archival documents.

    “Historically, the national laboratories and the US government have a lot of highly secure information that they need to store long-term. I see this as a potentially robust way of storing classified information in the future to preserve it for multiple generations,” says George. “The key is how do you go from text to DNA and do that in a way that is safe and secure.”

    George was inspired by the recording of all of Shakespeare’s sonnets into 2.5 million base pairs of DNA — about half the genome of the tiny E. coli bacterium. Using this method, the group at the European Bioinformatics Institute could theoretically store 2.2 petabytes of information — 200 times the printed material in the Library of Congress — in one gram of DNA.

    Marlene Bachand (1132), a biological engineer at Sandia and George’s wife, adds, “We are taking advantage of a biological component, DNA, and using its unique ability to encode huge amounts of data in an extremely small volume to develop DNA constructs that can be used to transmit and store vast amounts of encrypted data for security purposes.”

    The Bachands’ project, funded by Sandia’s Laboratory Directed Research & Development program, has successfully moved from the drawing board to letterhead. Using a practically unbreakable encryption key, the team has encoded an abridged version of the famous Truman letter establishing Sandia into DNA. They then made the DNA, spotted it onto Sandia letterhead, and mailed it — along with a conventional letter — around the country. After the letter’s cross-country trip, the team was able to extract the DNA out of the paper, amplify and sequence the DNA, and decode the message in about 24 hours at a cost of about $45.

    Text to DNA and back again

    To achieve this proof-of-principle, the first step was to develop the software to generate the encryption key and encrypt text into a DNA sequence. Andrew Gomez worked on this while he was an intern at Sandia; he is now at Senior Scientific, a nanomedicine company at the University of New Mexico’s Science and Technology Park.

    DNA is made up of four bases, commonly referred to by their one-letter abbreviations: A, C, G, and T. Using a three-base code, exactly how living organisms store their information, 64 distinct characters, letters, spaces, and punctuation, can be encoded, with room for redundancy.

    For example, spaces make up on average 15 to 20 percent of the characters in a text document, an encryption key could specify that TAG, TAA, and TGA each code for “space” while GAA and CTC could code for “E”. This would reduce the amount of repetition — technically challenging for making and reading DNA — and make brute-force hacking more difficult.

    The team’s first test was to encode a 180-character message, about the size of a tweet. Encoding the message into 550 bases was easy; actually making the DNA was hard.

    “Our initial approach was very expensive, very time-consuming, and didn’t work,” says George with a chuckle. However, “there’s a new technology that’s come out and made the ability to take synthetic DNA, what are called gene blocks, and stitch them together into these artificial chromosomes. These changes have just happened within the last few years, which has made it pretty extraordinary. Now it is possible to readily make these gene blocks right on the bench top and it can be done in large, production-scale pretty quickly.”

    Identifying potential national security applications

    Since successfully encoding, making, reading, and decoding the 180-character message and the 700-character Truman letter, George and Marlene are now working on even longer test sequences. However, what the Bachands really want to do is move beyond tests and apply their technique to national security problems.

    “We have achieved the proof-of-principle. Yes, it is possible. Now the big challenge for us is identifying the potential applications,” says George. “Using DNA to store information is pretty cool, it’s science-fiction-y, but the real question is it really good for anything? Can it really supplant any of the current technology and where we’re headed in the future?”

    Two possible applications the team has identified are storing historical classified documents and barcoding/watermarking electromechanical components, such as computer chips made in MESA, Sandia’s DoD-certified fabrication facility, prior to storage.

    George imagines encoding each component’s history — when it was manufactured, the lot number, starting material, even the results of reliability tests — into DNA and spotting it onto the actual chip. Instead of having to find the serial number and look up that metadata in a digital or paper-based database, future engineers could swab the chip itself, sequence the DNA, and get that information in a practically tamper-proof manner.

    Recoverable for 100s of years

    To test the feasibility, Marlene spotted lab equipment with a test message, and was able recover and decode the message, even after months of daily use and routine cleaning. DNA spotted onto electronic components and stored in cool, dark environments could be recoverable for hundreds of years.

    Another, more straightforward application for the Bachands’ DNA storage method would be for historical or rarely accessed classified documents. DNA requires much less maintenance than disk- or tape-based storage and doesn’t need lots of electricity or tons of space like cloud- or paper-based storage. But conversion of paper documents into DNA requires the “cumbersome” process of scanning, encrypting, then synthesizing the DNA, admits George. Making the DNA is the most expensive part of the process, but the cost has decreased substantially over the past few years and should continue to drop.

    “I hope this project progresses and expands the biological scope and nature of projects here at Sandia. I believe the field of biomimicry has no boundaries. Given all of the issues with broken encryption and data breaches, this technology could potentially provide a path to address these timely and ever-increasing security problems,” says Marlene.

    See the full article here

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    Sandia National Laboratory

    Sandia National Laboratories is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

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