DOD's high-performance computing program gets its annual tune-up with purchases for two centers

The Defense Department gave the High-Performance Computing Modernization Program its annual technology upgrade with high-end purchases from Cray Inc. of Seattle, IBM Corp. and SGI Federal.

The program, which pools high-end resources for DOD researchers, ordered $26 million worth of hardware, software and services from SGI Federal, said Cray J. Henry, director of the modernization program.

The SGI systems will go into two of the modernization program's major shared resource centers, the Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Miss., and the Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Vicksburg will get two 512-processor SGI Origin 3000 supercomputers and 20T of Total Performance 9500 storage. The Ohio center will receive four 512-CPU, two 64-CPU and one 12-CPU Origin 3000 systems, plus two four-processor Origin 300 computers and a total of 10T of storage.

Together, the four major shared resource centers are working on more than 680 projects, ranging from aircraft and ship design to future combat systems, Henry said.

The annual updates generally alternate among the four centers, so that next year the Army Research Center in Aberdeen, Md., and the Naval Oceanographic Office in Mississippi will have priority, Henry said.

Two of the modernization program's so-called distributed centers, Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center in Monterey, Calif., and the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, Md., also will get new SGI systems. Distributed centers are smaller and more specialized than the major shared resource centers.

Fleet Numerical, which specializes in weather forecasting for the military, will receive a new 256-processor Origin 3900 computer and 6T of storage for its operational mesoscale atmospheric model.

Patuxent River's new systems will be devoted to the Joint Strike Fighter, an aircraft that Lockheed Martin Corp. and DOD are developing for the Navy and Air Force, Henry said.

The SGI Federal contract covers service and support for 42 months, said Tony Celeste, SGI's national director of defense business. The contract is the largest single defense order in SGI's history.

Vicksburg will get a new 64-processor Cray X1 supercomputer in addition to its SGI equipment, Henry said. The Army High-Performance Computing Research Center in Minneapolis will upgrade one of its early production Cray X1 systems to a 142-CPU system.

The IBM acquisition consists of several upgrades to systems installed at Aberdeen and Patuxent River, Henry said.

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