NASA cranking up two new supercomputers

NASA, Intel and SGI this week said they would team up to crank up the space agency’s supercomputing power, making it up to 16 times more powerful than it is today.

Specifically, NASA Ames, Intel and SGI will work together on a project called Pleiades to develop a system with a capacity of one Petaflops peak performance (1,000 trillion operations per second) by 2009 and a system with a peak performance of 10 Petaflops (10,000 trillion operations per second) by 2012.  

 NASA’s Columbia, has a theoretical peak of 88.88 teraflops today putting it at the #20 most powerful supercomputer in the world according to the Top 500 Project.  The new power would likely bring Columbia into the top 5. The Top 500 group noted recently that in its last ranking more than 70% of the processors in all 500 supercomputing systems were manufactured by Intel; this was the largest share of Intel chips in the TOP500 ever. Especially successful are Intel’s dual-core Woodcrest and quad-core Clovertown processors, thee group noted.

The Pleiades project aims to develop a super-powerful modeling and simulation system for the space program. As the agency plots new missions to the moon and possibly Mars, the need for advanced simulations will only grow.    

Columbia and its advanced computational capabilities reside at NASA’s Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) facility at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

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