AFRL puts its new supercomputer to work

The Air Force Research Lab recently marked its new supercomputer, Thunder, which has been in use since October.

The Air Force Research Lab has marked the deployment of its third supercomputer. The SGI ICE X Thunder  – contracted for in December 2014 and in use since October of this year – so far has solved complex simulations in hypersonic flight and the limitations of a futuristic electromagnetic rail gun. The Thunder will be used by researchers primarily in physics-based modeling tolls and data analytics.

“Thunder's capability is amazing, and reaffirms our commitment to providing our customers with world-class computational tools,” Jeff Graham, AFRL Defense Supercomputing Resource Center Director, said in an announcement. “The power of Thunder will drive solutions to the most challenging problems facing our nation in today's volatile global environment.”

“We're really getting to the point where we can replicate the testing that we do in the laboratories or on the test stands in structural analysis,” said Doug Ebersole, executive director of the Air Force Research Laboratory.

AFR maintains that Thunder is the 21st fastest high-performance computing system in the world.  The Top500 – a project that ranks the most powerful supercomputers in the world – by contrast, ranked Thunder 19th  when measuring its theoretical peak against those of other supercomputers. Thunder can calculate nearly 3.1 petaflops per second (a petaflop is a quadrillion floating-point operations per second). The supercomputer has 3,456 standard compute nodes with 36 cores, 442.37 terabytes of memory and is rated at 4.62 peak petaflops.  

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