Supercomputer details ocean for DOD

The Naval Oceanographic Office this week began using a new IBM Corp. supercomputer

to perform research that may help prevent maritime disasters.

The fourth-largest supercomputer in the world and the most powerful

one in the Defense Department's arsenal, the IBM RS/6000 SP will be used

to assemble detailed models of ocean waves, currents and temperatures.

The models will enable scientists to predict the behavior of the world's

oceans with increased precision, helping to improve safety for military

operations, as well as commercial shipping and search and rescue missions

at sea. The supercomputer also will be used to forecast weather patterns

that are influenced by the ocean, including "El Nino."

Other DOD applications for the supercomputer include designing stronger

aircraft and simulating battlefield environments.

The new machine can process 2 trillion calculations per second and is

nearly 170 times more powerful than IBM's "Deep Blue" supercomputer, which

gained notoriety in 1997 for defeating world chess champion Garry Kasparov.

The supercomputer was installed by Logicon, a Northrop Grumman Co., at Stennis

Space Center, Miss.

"We didn't want to get very accurate weather forecasting that took six

days of computing time to get a five-day forecast," Serge Polevitzky, program

manager for Logicon at the Naval Oceanographic Office.

The new two-teraflop machine uses the computing power of 1,336 IBM Power3-II

copper microprocessors.

"We are extremely pleased the significant computational capability that

this system will bring to the Department of Defense," said Landry Bernard,

technical director at the Naval Oceanographic Office. "High performance-technology

of this magnitude gives us unparalleled capabilities in the daily ocean

and global scale modeling we perform to support worldwide DOD operations."

"From a pure computer standpoint, these applications push the bounds

of the machine," said Peter Ungaro, vice president of sales and marketing

at IBM, adding that the computer was delivered about two months after the

order was received. Six vendors competed for the $18 million contract last

year.

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