Defense buys big iron for serious sims

The Defense Department bought a supercomputer to help the services design weapons and undertake other computationally intensive jobs, officials said today.

The General Services Administration purchased a 2,048-processor SGI Altix System on behalf of the Defense's High Performance Computing Modernization Program. DOD spent $13 million on the supercomputer and a number of other, smaller, undisclosed Army systems, according to Benn Stratton, SGI Federal's director of the defense and civilian agencies business unit.

The Aeronautical Systems Center's Major Shared Resource Center, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, will let other Defense Department agencies use the system, according to Steve Wourms, director of the center.

The facility is one of four High Performance Computing Major Shared Resource Centers that provide computer resources to the Defense research, development, test and evaluation communities.

According to Wourms, the services have a backlog of jobs that require big iron, ranging from designing weapons to providing high-quality simulations of fluids and structures.

'There is much more demand in the DOD environment than all the resources that the centers in this HPC program have put together,' Wourms said. 'On top of that, researchers are leveraging these much-improved machines to do much higher resolutions, or much finer grids.'

SGI delivered the system on March 23, according to Wourms. Nicknamed 'Eagle,' this machine will feature 2T of shared memory, accessible by any of its processors via SGI's SGI Numalink interconnect. It will run 1.6 GHz Intel Itanium 2 processors on the Linux operating system.

While still at the SGI manufacturing facility, the machine tested at 11.636 TFLOPS, a faster Linpack benchmark rate than any Defense Department computer on last November's Top 500 list of the world's most powerful supercomputers, according to Stratton. The Top 500 List, maintained by the universities of Mannheim and Tennessee, is a biannual compilation of supercomputer performance benchmarks voluntarily submitted by owners.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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