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Navy Uses SGI Solutions


Silicon Graphics announced that the Warhead Performance and Target Response Branch at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Indian Head, Md., has purchased SGI Altix server and SGI InfiniteStorage solutions to provide reliable quantitative predictions of the vulnerability and survivability of targets for existing and prospective U.S. Navy warheads. Armed with state-of-the-art computational and storage resources from SGI, NSWC-Indian Head is now better able to simulate target response to underwater explosions with sufficient fidelity to evaluate the effectiveness of current and future Navy weapons systems.

"The addition of the new Altix servers and InfiniteStorage systems from SGI allow our scientists and engineers to conduct analyses on larger and more complex problems than we were able to attempt in the past," said Amos Dare, manager of the Warhead Performance and Target Response Branch at NSWC-Indian Head. "It is now possible to conduct large three-dimensional computations, enabling faster full 3-D analyses of explosive systems."

The Warhead Performance and Target Response Branch at NSWC-Indian Head serves as the principal source of expertise for the U.S. Navy in the area of underwater explosion phenomenology and its application to target damage. In April, the branch purchased two SGI Altix 350 mid-range servers, each configured with 32 Intel Itanium 2 processors and 32GB of memory, as well as 6TB of SGI InfiniteStorage TP9300 RAID, to perform end-to-end simulations using highly complex, specialized software codes. Both the SGI server and storage systems are tied to a high-speed InfiniBand networking switch, enabling the Navy customer to run hydrocodes used to model underwater explosions on the two 32-processor SGI Altix 350 systems or to run code utilizing all 64 processors.

InfiniBand is the only 10Gb per second transport that enables industry standard servers to be clustered together for reliable, available, scaleable and high performance enterprise computing. The InfiniBand solution for the SGI Altix family of servers addresses typical bottlenecks and provides technical customers like NSWC-Indian Head with a world-class clustering solution for their most demanding application workloads, such as accurately modeling and simulating the complex interactions between underwater explosions and physical structures such as surface ships, submarines and mines.

"The Warhead Performance and Target Response Branch at NSWC-Indian Head is the premier scientific research laboratory supporting the Navy's most challenging underwater warhead problems," said Thomas Stanley director of defense and intelligence at SGI. "The lab needed a server/storage solution that was powerful enough and versatile enough to support a variety of hydrocodes used to model underwater explosions near structures such as ships, submarines, and submerged or buried mines. The SGI Altix 350 and InfiniteStorage TP9300 coupled with InfiniBand interconnect technology is the perfect solution capable of modeling the entire underwater explosion phenomena including detonation, shock physics, and bubble dynamics, among others."

Additionally, the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington, D.C., has purchased SGI visualization and SGI InfiniteStorage solutions to help visualize, store and share data for critical applications, including immersive real-time visualization of satellite imagery, computational fluid dynamics, ocean and weather modeling, and space physics.

"NRL is the premier scientific research laboratory within the Department of Defense supporting scientists from various disciplines such as chemistry, computational fluid dynamics, biochemistry, space physics, and many others," said Stanley. "The lab needed a visualization solution that was powerful enough and versatile enough to accommodate many different types of scientific applications. The Silicon Graphics Prism system is designed from the ground up to solve the most challenging visualization problems facing scientists and engineers."

A complete, advanced visualization system for Linux and one of the largest Silicon Graphics Prism systems in the United States powered by 128 Intel Itanium 2 processors was specifically designed to help technical professionals like those at NRL address some of the world's most critical problems. With the Silicon Graphics Prism, SGI has combined standards-based Intel Itanium 2 processors and the Linux operating environment with SGI's advanced graphics for visual performance and shared-memory architecture.

One of the missions of the visualization laboratory at NRL is the development of new techniques, algorithms and methodologies to cope with the very large datasets that are being created by the scientific community that NRL serves. In particular, the area of computational fluid dynamics and GIS image analysis research have yielded terabytes of data that researchers at NRL extract and analyze for important flow features buried within these huge datasets.

Using a Silicon Graphics Prism visualization system and SGI InfiniteStorage technology, NRL has created a DoD-wide resource for researchers to visualize their complex data, store it and share it among multidisciplinary teams. This resource makes possible the kinds of scientific breakthroughs required to advance a broad range of scientific research, technology and advanced development directed toward maritime applications that are vital to conducting U.S. Navy and Marine Corps operations in the 21st century.

"We have a host of real-world scientific visualization problems that are benefiting from this visualization-storage solution from SGI," said Hank Dardy, chief scientist for advanced computing at NRL's Center for Computational Science. "Built on the SGI NUMAflex shared-memory architecture, our Silicon Graphics Prism visualization system has the large, complex data memory functionality we needed for our real-time technical environments. In addition, with an SGI storage area network coupled with the CXFS shared filesystem, we can read and write data directly over the SAN to and from disk, eliminating duplication and bottlenecks for our data-intensive applications."

Earlier this year, NRL purchased a 128-processor Silicon Graphics Prism visualization system, powered by Intel Itanium 2 processors and running the Linux operating environment. To store huge volumes of data, the lab installed 56TB of SGI InfiniteStorage TP9700 Fibre Channel RAID array, the industry's first Fibre Channel storage array equipped with 4Gb per second interfaces, whose disk space is shared as an SGI InfiniteStorage CXFS clustered filesystem. By eliminating network data overhead, latencies and copies, CXFS enables the typical data-intensive workflow to complete 20 to 80 percent faster, while reducing the administration overhead, speeding backups and reducing disk needed.

Government research laboratories like NRL are also increasingly turning to InfiniBand interconnect solutions to dramatically improve performance, efficiency, scalability and overall network reliability. SGI recently reconfigured the TP9700 at NRL to utilize new native InfiniBand host connectivity.

SGI InfiniteStorage disk arrays are built on Engenio technology that are specifically designed to meet the demanding needs of high-performance computing environments such as NRL that require InfiniBand.

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