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New supercomputer doubles capacity

10/10/2003 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFPN) -- A new, $15.1 million supercomputer formally began operations here Oct. 6, giving the Aeronautical Systems Center's Major Shared Resource Center here more than double the computing capability and available compute-hours.

The new system is the largest such computer in the world. It has a computing environment of 2,048 processors, two terabytes of memory and 40 terabytes of disk storage, said Steve Worums, high computing division director here.

"This means our 4,000-plus MSRC users can now solve larger and more complex problems than ever before," he said.

Besides its computing power, the new computer boasts memory capacity equal to all the information a typical research library would hold, Worums said. The supercomputer makes the MSRC one of four major high-performance computing centers in the Department of Defense.

"Supercomputing is not a luxury anymore -- it's a 'gotta-have' for the complexity of today's world," said Lt. Gen. Dick Reynolds, ASC commander. "What's really important is how we use this new system -- the 'best of the best' available in DOD today -- to manage research, turn data into useful knowledge, and make wise decisions based on that knowledge."

He said one of the core competencies in the Air Force today is "technology to warfighting -- that's our edge.

"We have to stay ahead of our enemies, who are using technology to try to defeat us," Reynolds said. "With this new system, and our determination to deliver the benefits of war-winning capabilities to our warfighting customers, I'm confident we can maintain that edge."

"Very few systems in the world put this much computational power into a single, flexible system," Worums said. "This capability enables our researchers to see the future and facilitate acquisition initiatives to design and deliver war-winning weapons systems much more quickly and cost-effectively."

With the new system, for example, an aerospace engineer can study how a wing affects the performance of an entire aircraft, rather than just looking at part of the wing, Wourms said. A propulsion engineer can study the complex combustion behaviors of an entire jet engine to make it more efficient and powerful; and a chemist can define new ways to build stronger metals and composites that last longer.

The new system also will help researchers explore problems in such diverse areas as computational chemistry, structural mechanics, signals and image processing, forces modeling and simulation and fluid dynamics, among others, Wourms added.

"In fact, the new supercomputer already has been used to perform modeling and simulation studies addressing affordability issues . ," Wourms said.

"With the (supercomputer), we're aiming for general-purpose, proven performance," Wourms said. "We're going for state of the practice as opposed to state of the art computing capability -- the best of what we know will perform in a production environment, 'up' and accessible to our customers all the time." (Courtesy of Air Force Materiel Command News Service)