Energy plan emphasizes computer power

Department of Energy

The Energy Department's 20-year plan for science facilities puts a high priority on increasing research computing capabilities in the United States.

The DOE plan prioritizes 28 facilities that will support the research missions of the agency's Office of Science. The facilities will either be completely new or upgrades to current facilities. By involving several sites, DOE officials plan to increase the nation's research capability by a factor of 100.

"These facilities are needed to extend the frontiers of science, to pursue opportunities of enormous importance and to maintain U.S. science primacy in the world," Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said.

Department officials listed UltraScale Scientific Computing Capability second among 12 near-term goals on the list, behind top-ranked ITER, an international experiment attempting to produce a self-sustaining fusion reaction called burning plasma.

Other near-term priorities include: the Joint Dark Energy Mission, a partnership with NASA to understand unseen energy that most physicists predict exist according to their theories of the universe; the Linac Coherent Light Source project to provide laserlike radiation that is 10 billion times greater in power than an X-ray; and the Rare Isotope Accelerator, dedicated to producing new isotopes not naturally found on Earth.

In addition to the 12 near-term priority facilities, DOE's plan also includes eight midterm and eight long-term priority facilities.

"They can make major and necessary contributions to national security and give us the ability to understand matter at its most fundamental level," Abraham said.

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