Army research center fortifies its Cray T3E

Army research center fortifies its Cray T3E

$18.5 million upgrade will boost supercomputer's speed and increase its memory

By Patricia Daukantas

GCN Staff

The Army High Performance Computing Research Center in Minneapolis is quadrupling the performance and memory of its Cray T3E 1200 supercomputer from Cray Inc. of Seattle.

When the service completes the $18.5 million upgrade late next month, the T3E will have a peak speed of 1.3 trillion floating-point operations per second, said Paul Muzio, the vice president for government programs at systems integrator Network Computing Services Inc. of Minneapolis.

In its current configuration, the T3E has 272 processors and 139G of main memory. The refurbished machine will have 1,088 600-MHz Compaq Alpha EV5.6 processors.

Each processor churns out two results per clock cycle and has a peak speed of 1.2 GFLOPS and 512M of memory, Muzio said.

The upgraded supercomputer will have 557G of main memory and 6.4T of disk storage. It will continue to run Unicos MK, Cray's proprietary version of Unix.

Wide-ranging research

A toroid-shaped, high-speed interconnection network links the processors with a peak data transfer rate of nearly 500 megabytes/sec, Muzio said.

The Army computing center conducts fundamental research on everything from new materials to Army systems. It also produces detailed simulations, said Charles Nietubicz, chief of the High-Performance Computing Division of the Army Research Laboratory in Aberdeen, Md. The Minneapolis facility is part of the research lab.

'Today you need to solve fully 3-D, time-dependent problems' in computational fluid dynamics, chemistry, electromagnetics and structural dynamics, Nietubicz said.

Funds for the upgrade came from the Defense Department's High-Performance Computing Modernization Program, Nietubicz said. The effort is one of several recent boosts to DOD's high-performance computing capability.

The Army's T3E upgrade is the first big order for Cray since SGI sold its Cray Research business unit to Tera Computer Co. of Seattle, which named the merged company Cray Inc. [GCN, March 20, Page 3]. The original Cray Research Inc. of Eagan, Minn., had introduced the T3E line in 1995 before SGI acquired it in 1996.

The Army center's contract with Cray includes an option to acquire a Cray SV2, a next-generation supercomputer now in development under DOD funding.

Cray is starting to see early commitments for orders two years before the SV2's expected release, company spokesman Steve Conway said.

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