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­.s. Government Lab Dabbles in New Computer Designs

By IDG News Service

November 13, 2015

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The Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is seeking to replace conventional computer systems by developing and obtaining new computer designs, including the D-Wave 2X quantum computer. Its acquisition aligns with the facility's goal of understanding new forms of computing and their relevance to different applications, according to LANL's John Sarrao.

Lab researchers will use the D-Wave 2X to explore quantum computing and software applications, and the system must be programmed for specific tasks because it is not a general-purpose machine.

Another focus of the lab is neuromorphic chips inspired by the human brain's operations. Sarrao says LANL's initiatives to work out new computer designs will advance materials and physics research and help further develop supercomputing. He also notes the lab will still depend on its massive supercomputers for critical scientific research, but the research into new computers is growing in importance as the limits of Moore's Law come closer.

Sarrao says quantum computers could deliver a new model to replace systems such as Trinity, an LANL supercomputer slated to become operational in 2016.

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