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DoD Aims HP Supercomputer at Weapons Research

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has agreed to buy a HP supercomputing cluster to help develop advanced weapons systems.

The DoD will install an HP Cluster Platform 4000 system at the Aeronautical Systems Center (ASC) Major Shared Resource Center (MSRC), based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

Supercomputers often comprise several computing servers all geared to conduct calculations on the same task, such as figuring out climate patterns, or simulating protein folding to study the effects of diseases on people or animals.

For this contract, the DoD will use the system to accelerate research on how new weapons concepts can affect their targets. The machine should boost tests and simulation, too.

The system, which uses HP's ProLiant DL145 systems powered by AMD Opteron chips and the Linux operating system, is a 1,024 node cluster capable of processing data at 10 trillion calculations per second, or teraflops . HP said in a statement it will use a Voltaire InfiniBand interconnect with HP's XC System software to manage the cluster.

The supercomputer is also supported by A 12-node HP StorageWorks Scalable File Share (SFS) system storage, capable of socking away 100 terabytes of files and other important data.

In addition to the HP Cluster Platform 4000, which will be completed in September, HP said it plans to run an eight-node system at ASC and a separate 46-node development cluster at the Arnold Air Force base near Tullahoma, Tenn.

Pricing for the system was not made public but supercomputer contracts generally run anywhere from a few million to several million dollars.

The move also fortifies HP's position in a lucrative government market, where IBM, Dell, SGI, Cray, Sun Microsystems and others compete for as big a piece of the revenue pie as they can muster.

While HP has been a major supplier of supercomputers to civilian and defense agencies throughout the government for years, IBM has been stealing the headlines of late.

Big Blue has posted top teraflop speeds thanks to its Blue Gene supercomputers, which hold five of the top 10 world's fastest supercomputers.

No. 1 is BlueGene/L, which doubled in size since it was last crowned king in November. The machine now clocks in at 136.8 teraflops (define), or trillion calculations per second, according to the Top500 group.

When completed this fall, Blue Gene/L should approach top processing speeds of 360 teraflops, courtesy of a 64-rack system with over 130,000 IBM PowerPC processors.