Qbox, the most computationally intensive computer program developed so far, has started crunching numbers to simulate the quantum behaviour of atoms.
Qbox runs on Blue Gene/L, the world's most powerful supercomputer, built by IBM and installed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, US. Gene/L consists of 131,072 individual processors wired together, capable of a peak performance of 360 trillion calculations per second (teraflops).
Qbox simulates the quantum-mechanical interactions between 1000 molybdenum atoms under high pressure. This is the difference. Other simulations of interactions between billions of atoms rely on classical molecular dynamics. So far quantum simulations had involved about 50 atoms at a time.
All this power at the service of knowledge and understanding? Yes, but also of military safety.
The simulations should help scientists to establish the reliability and stability of warheads in the US stockpile, some of which have well passed the "best before" date. Watch out for the scientific consequences though.