SGI Linux system to serve as US military computing prototype

The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Washington, D.C., is the first customer under SGI's global beta program to install a 128-processor single system image SGI Altix 3000 supercomputer. The record-setting system will help military and civilian researchers push the boundaries of open-source Linux applications to solve some of the most challenging computational problems.

"Working with SGI, we have created a prototype for a network-centric, shared memory, scalable supercomputer based on next-generation Intel processors and the Linux open-source operating system. This prototype will enable researchers to make unprecedented breakthroughs in advanced science more quickly and sustain gigabyte data flows necessary for optimum distributed computing," said Dr. Hank Dardy, chief scientist for advanced computing at NRL's Center for Computational Science, a distributed center under the Department of Defense High Performance Computing Modernization Program.

SGI's single-system image technology uses a single operating system to control all the processors attached to a globally shared memory as well as the input/output system, which is far more efficient than clustering. The Altix family of servers combines industry-standard 64-bit Linux with the Intel Itanium 2 processor family and SGI NUMAflex architecture to enable global shared memory, which is a first for Linux OS-based computing. Powered by the third-generation NUMAflex supercomputing architecture, even the largest data sets can be handled and analyzed with ease and in record time. Only the SGI Altix 3000 family of servers is designed around this scalable shared-memory architecture that analyzes data sets as whole entities, without breaking them up into smaller segments to be handled by individual processors.

The enormous processing power and speed of this SGI Altix supercomputer gives NRL researchers the opportunity to load an entire data set into memory simultaneously. In this single system image architecture, every memory module can be shared among all 128 processors in the configuration, maximizing the efficient use of the supercomputer's available memory, all the time. NRL will use the power of the 128-processor SGI Altix 3000 for some very demanding high-performance computing applications including computational fluid dynamics, ocean and weather modeling, and computational physics.

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