Scientists used a gaming graphics card to launch a prototype fusion reactor

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a method that uses a gaming graphics card to

control of plasma formation in their prototype fusion reactor.

The prototype reactor heats the plasma to about 1,000,000 ° C. This is not yet the 150,000,000 ° C needed for thermonuclear fusion, but enough to study the concept, the authors say.

Plasma is generated in three injectors of the device, andthey then combine and merge naturally into a donut-shaped object that looks like a smoke ring. This plasma is only a few thousandths of a second, so the team needed a high-speed method to control what was happening.

Previously, researchers used sloweror less convenient technologies for programming their control systems. However, in the new work, the team used an NVIDIA Tesla GPU, which is designed for machine learning applications.

The GPU gives us access to a hugethe amount of computing power. This level of performance is required by the gaming industry, but this design can be used to drive plasma.

Kyle Morgan, Research Fellow, Aeronautics and Astronautics Research Unit, University of Washington

Using the graphics card, the team can accuratelyadjust the process of entering the plasma into the reactor, so researchers can more specifically imagine what happens as the plasma forms. Also, the video card will help create a plasma that lives longer.

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