Navy lab upgrades supercomputers

The Naval Research Laboratory Tuesday announced a $2.5 million upgrade to its high-performance computing systems, becoming Silicon Graphics Inc.'s first customer for its new microprocessor technology.

The laboratory will upgrade its SGI Origin 3000 series and Onyx 3000 series systems with the company's new MIPS R14000 microprocessors. The core processor technology in the initial July 2000 release of the 3000 series was the MIPS R12000 processor.

The new machines can sustain the gigabyte data flows necessary for high-level distributed computing and visualization, said Hank Dardy, chief scientist for advanced computing at the NRL's Center for Computational Science, a distributed center under the Department of Defense High-Performance Computing Modernization Program.

The NRL's 128-processor Origin 3800 and 28-processor Onyx 3400 will provide support to U.S. military and civilian researchers for solving problems that require high-performance computing applications. Some of those include ocean and weather modeling, computational chemistry, materials science, acoustics, electromagnetics and space physics, Dardy said.

The Origin 3800 is well-suited to solving problems in "developing new and more realistic models for predicting climate and forecasting weather," he said, adding that the new machine should improve "the accuracy and timeliness of the U.S. Navy's weather warnings and forecasts to its worldwide fleet, which is essential to naval operations."

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