Department of Defense gets zippy IBM supercomputer

Aiming to bolster the military’s abilities to forecast weather and model ocean movements the Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVO) today said it bought a water-cooled, 90 teraflop IBM supercomputer.

The IBM Power 575 Hydro-Cluster, will be installed at the NAVO Major Shared Resource Center (MSRC), one of four Department of Defense High Performance Computing centers that are part of the DoD’s High Performance Computing Modernization Program.While it will be used mostly by the Navy, the system’s ocean models will be publicly accessible via the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Web site, with the idea that such information can be used to help commercial ships avoid bad weather.  The  Coast Guard is also expected to use the system to bolster its search-and-rescue operations, IBM said.

The new Power 575 supercomputer uses water-chilled copper plates located above each microprocessor to remove heat from the electronics and requires 80% fewer air conditioning units than air cooled systems, IBM said. The system features 448 processor cores per rack and each rack features 14 2U nodes, each with 32, 4.7-Ghz cores of POWER6 and 3.5 TB of memory, according to IBM.  

NAVO uses a variety of platforms, such as survey ships, satellite sensors and buoys , to collect oceanographic and hydrographic data from the world's oceans.  For example it performs global sea ice analysis and offers very high-resolution coastal ocean circulation to help ships avoid problem areas of the oceans The agency distributes its data to military and civilian customers. 

The new systems will be located at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

IBM's $100 million Roadrunner system installed at the Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory was recently named the  most powerful and energy efficient supercomputer in the world by the TOP500 group. The Roadrunner achieved performance of 1.026 petaflop/s-becoming the first supercomputer ever to reach that performance milestone. 

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