IBM will build new Department of Energy supercomputer

'Roadrunner' supercomputer for the Los Alamos National Laboratory carries $35 million price tag

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) chose IBM to build a new supercomputer for its Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, IBM announced Wednesday.

Named "Roadrunner," the new machine comes with a price tag of $35 million, the amount allotted by the U.S. Congress to the DOE's National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) for its purchase.

One potential use for Roadrunner is to monitor and maintain the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. DOE officials said they would monitor the computer's development to see if it meets the criteria to perform that task. The DOE has used supercomputers to keep an eye on the health and readiness of the U.S.'s nuclear weapons, in lieu of actual underground nuclear tests.

Roadrunner will run Red Hat's version 4.3 Linux operating system, and will be built entirely with commercially available hardware running two different types of processors, IBM said. The company will use IBM x3755 systems, with Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron processor, alongside IBM BladeCenter H systems with Cell processors.