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LAB NOTES: Policy bill backs lab's Roadrunner supercomputer

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By The Staff

The House and Senate have now both approved the FY2008 Defense Authorization Bill, which authorizes funds for New Mexico’s national laboratories and defense installations.Included in the authorization is a plan authored by Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M, to require an independent review of the Department of Energy’s advance computing programs. Domenici sees that as a prerequisite to maintaining adequate support for the Roadrunner supercomputer at Los Alamos National Laboratory.“This authorization is intended to ensure that the Department of Energy and NNSA have coordinated strategy for advancing the state-of-the-art in computing,” said Domenici in a press release. “I do not believe the department should be moving to reduce computing capabilities at the labs when they are clearly making great strides in this work.”The Roadrunner, expected to operate at a thousand trillion operations a second (a petaflop), would surpass the current fastest computer, Lawrence Livermore’s “Blue Gene.”The defense bill, now on its way to the White House for signature, sets an authorization limit of $6.5 billion for maintaining the nuclear stockpile and $1.809 billion for the nation’s non-proliferation programs, safeguarding nuclear materials throughout the world.Sen. Jeff Bingaman noted that the bill authorizes $66 million for the Reliable Replacement Warhead, but that the authorization is limited to funding for the design, definition and cost analysis.His statement added that the conferees expressed concern that RRW was moving forward too quickly and worried that it might have an adverse effect on the maintenance of the existing stockpile.Bingaman also reported that the legislation includes specific requirements directed to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to improve the quality of care available to troops returning from Iraq and AfghanistanU.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman today reported that the Senate has given final passage to legislation stepping up the quality of health care offered to troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill can now be sent to the White House for signature.