SGI Wins $30 Million DoD Supercomputing Contract

The OEM will deploy a powerful Intel-based ICE X supercomputer and an InfiniteStorage 5600 storage system at an Air Force facility in Mississippi.

SGI supercomputer

Supercomputer maker SGI will get more than $30 million from the U.S. Department of Defense to deliver an ICE X system to its Air Force Research Laboratory to help speed up development and testing time for scientists and researchers.

The $30 million contract was part of an overall $65 million the Department of Defense's (DoD) High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP) is spending to upgrade the supercomputing capabilities at two of its sites. Cray received the other contract to supply two supercomputers and high-performance storage systems.

According to officials with the HPCMP, the key to the systems from Cray and SGI will be in enabling DoD scientists and engineers at two of the program's five supercomputing sites to do their jobs more quickly.

"Supercomputing is a critical enabling technology for the DoD as it continues vital work to improve both the safety and performance of the U.S. military," HPCMP Director John West said in a statement. "These newly acquired systems ensure that scientists and engineers in the DoD's research, development, test and evaluation communities will continue to be able to take advantage of a robust computing ecosystem that includes the best computational technologies available today."

The HPCMP initiative has been around for more than two decades and is designed to bring high-performance computing (HPC), networking and computational expertise to DoD scientists, researchers and engineers for a broad range of research, development and test applications.

The SGI ICE X system will be housed at the Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Miss. The supercomputer will be a 3,576-node cluster powered by 2.3GHz Xeon E5-2699 v3 "Haswell" chips from Intel and that includes 178 Xeon Phi coprocessors and 178 Tesla K40 GPU accelerators, according to SGI officials. There will be 125,440 compute cores in all, and the system will offer 440TB of memory and run SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11.

HPCMP officials said the cluster will provide 4.66 petaflops of peak performance. The cluster also will come with SGI's M-Cell power and cooling technology.

In addition to the supercomputer, SGI will supply the Air Force lab with an InfiniteStorage 5600 storage system based on NetApp's E-Series technology and running Intel's Enterprise Edition for Lustre software, which will give users faster access to stored information. The InfiniteStorage system will offer 12.4 petabytes.

"This deployment enables advanced computing for the DoD's science and engineering communities for a broad range of diverse application areas including fluid dynamics, structural mechanics, materials design, space situational awareness, climate and ocean modeling and environmental quality," Rebecca Noriega, senior analyst and PR manager at SGI, said in a post on the company blog.

The Cray XC40 supercomputers and Sonexian storage systems will be housed at the Army Research Laboratory in Aberdeen, Md., and also will feature Intel Xeon E5 chips (the E5-2698 v3 processors) and Nvidia's Tesla K40 GPU accelerators. That system will offer 3.77 petaflops of peak performance.

The HPCMP award is the second SGI has received from the DoD in the past two months. In October, the company received a contract for another ICE X supercomputer and an InfiniteStorage 5600 storage system at the center in Mississippi, also as part of the HPCMP. That system also has a peak performance of 4.6 petaflops, according to SGI officials.