Defense supercomputer starts modeling ocean currents

Defense supercomputer starts modeling ocean currents

By Patricia Daukantas

GCN Staff

AUG. 3—One of the world's fastest supercomputers is starting to carry out simulations of ocean currents and high-tech materials for Defense Department researchers.

The Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) at Stennis Space Center, Miss., recently took delivery of a 1,336-processor IBM RS/6000 SP system that has a theoretical peak output of two trillion floating-point operations per second (TFLOPS).

"We're very pleased with the process we're making with it," said Steve Adamec, director of NAVOCEANO's Major Shared Resource Center, one of four large supercomputing facilities in DOD's High-Performance Computing Modernization Program.

The center just finished its first round of acceptance tests on the RS/6000 and has made the supercomputer available to some users, Adamec said. Full production capability is expected by the end of the summer.

The supercomputer uses IBM Power3-II copper-based microprocessors. Connecting transistors on a chip with copper instead of the traditional aluminum boosts performance because copper conducts electricity better.

Each of the supercomputer's 334 Winterhawk-II symmetric multiprocessing nodes has four processors and 4G of RAM, Adamec said. The system also contains 17T of short-term IBM disk storage for manipulating huge data sets.

Conducting detailed modeling of all the world's oceans at once is one of the new machine's primary functions, Adamec said. Other NAVOCEANO machines were able to simulate currents and wave heights for smaller ocean regions.

The DOD center will also put the unclassified supercomputer to work on materials science, fluid dynamics and other research problems of interest to the armed forces.

The most recent list of the fastest computers [www.top500.org/lists/TOP500List.php3?Y=2000&M=06] ranks the NAVOCEANO RS/6000 fourth in the world. That list, however, came out a few weeks before the announcement of a 12.3-TFLOPS IBM RS/6000 at one of the Energy Department's laboratories [see www.gcn.com/vol19_no18/news/2348-1.html].

Logicon Inc. of Herndon, Va., served as the systems integrator for the supercomputer, Adamec said.

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