Here Comes the Sun — Exascale Computing to Fuel Fusion Energy

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If science is to develop clean, abundant energy from nuclear fusion, it will only be with the power of supercomputer simulations to get us there.

We have good ideas how to move forward,” William Tang from the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. “But to enhance the physics fidelity of the simulation models and incorporate the added complexity that needs to be taken into account will demand more and more powerful computing platforms and more systematic experiments to validate models.”

Scientists now focus simulations on single aspects of plasma physics, but a realistic model must integrate multiple physical simulations, which will require Exaflop capabilities approximately 1,000 times more powerful than today’s fastest machines.

Computer simulation is and will continue to be the only game in town for examining some aspects of fusion energy technology, says Zhihong Lin, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Irvine. “You can do some things (with computers) you can’t do now in experiments, because right now we don’t have burning plasma experiments” like ITER.

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