HPE to Deliver Seven Supercomputers to Department of Defense

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has been selected to supply seven new supercomputers for the US Department of Defense (DoD) High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP).

All of the systems are HPE SGI 8600 clusters. Four of them will be deployed at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, while the other three will be installed at the Navy’s DoD Supercomputing Resource Center.

The HPE SGI 8600 clusters for the Air Force will be powered by 24-core Intel Xeon Scalable Processors, hooked together with Intel’s Omni-Path fabric. In aggregate, the four clusters will deliver more than 7.3 petaflops of peak performance, backed by over 12 petabytes DDN Lustre storage. The AFRL systems will be used to support research in hypersonics and computational modeling of Air Force weapon systems.

The three Navy systems are almost identical, sporting the same 24-core Xeon processors and Omni-Path fabric, along with 12 petabytes of DDN storage. Together, the machines will supply 6.8 petaflops of computational performance. They will be used to support the Navy’s advanced weapons capabilities and global weather modeling.

The HPE SGI 8600 is of fairly recent vintage, having been introduced in 2017. Although it doesn’t sport the Apollo brand, the 8600 is included under that HPC-centered portfolio. Rather than being based on the HPE Proliant server, the like the other Apollo products, the 8600 is a derivation of SGI’s ICE XA platform, which HPE upgraded and rebranded last year. Besides offering Intel’s latest Xeon silicon, the system can also be equipped with NVIDIA GPU coprocessors, although none of the Air Force or Navy systems appear to employ this particular option.

Other large HPE SGI 8600 systems of note include TSUBAME 3.0, a 12.1-petaflop supercomputer installed at Tokyo Tech, and Electra, a 4.8-petaflop machine deployed at NASA’s Ames Research Center. The 8600 platform can support more than 10,000 nodes, so scaling into multi-petaflop territory is not a problem.

The contract for the seven DoD systems is valued at $57 million, which includes the cost of the supercomputing machinery, plus five years of 24/7 support, on-site system administration, and access to applications support personnel from HPE.

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