U.S. Air Force Academy Purchases SGI Technology for Computational Structural Analysis and Code Development
SUNNYVALE, Calif. (February 27, 2007) — To solve very large structural mechanics problems and circumvent the wait times inherent in shared computational resources, the Center for Aircraft Structural Life Extension at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) purchased high-performance compute and storage systems from SGI (NASDAQ: SGIC). The dedicated SGI® Altix® 4700 system, complemented by 100 TB of SGI® InfiniteStorage, is installed at the Academy’s Colorado Springs, Colo., campus.
It is public knowledge that the U.S. Air Force has the largest aging fleet in the country, with the mean age of aircraft over 20 years old. The mission of the Center for Aircraft Structural Life Extension is to provide data, tools and methodology to help solve a class of problems specific to aging aircraft. As part of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), USAFA researchers and faculty have access to the Aeronautical Systems Center Major Shared Resource Center (MSRC) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (AFB), Ohio, one of four DoD MSRC massive computational resource sites throughout the country. Wright-Patterson AFB is a multi-vendor computational site and includes a 2,048 processor SGI Altix system.
The research group at the Center, one of 10 research centers at the USAFA, needed a dedicated system with large enough processing power to develop software without all the challenges of waiting in queue for a DoD shared environment. They also needed a dedicated resource that would allow them to write their own codes in Fortran and C++, codes that could scale to 500 or 1,000 processors instead of off-the-shelf engineering software that doesn’t typically scale beyond eight or 16 processors.
“This system demonstrates SGI’s ability to deliver superior solutions for the most compute-intensive and data-intensive workflows. The flexible, highly scalable, highly reliable, and powerful open architecture of the Altix system provides the right combination of compute, special purpose processing, memory and I/O capabilities, to meet the varying needs of the Center for Aircraft Structural Life Extension at the USAFA,” said Dave Parry, senior vice president and product general manager, SGI.
The Center also required a solution that would enable researchers to start writing code on a single-use machine, one which would allow them to solve a smaller set of problems on site, and then port the code to the large SGI Altix system at Wright-Patterson AFB for further development, maximizing the code performance by using the massively parallel nature of the bigger Altix machine.
The SGI Altix and SGI InfiniteStorage systems will also be leveraged in academia and research for mechanical engineering, especially structural analysis and finite element analysis applications, as well as for inter-discipline competition teams — where current and future engineers compete in the design, test, analysis, and fabrication of a project using applications such as MSC.Nastran and Abaqus software.
“With their purchase of an on-site SGI Altix system, the U.S. Air Force Academy has taken a powerful step towards ensuring the safety of Air Force transport and provided an academic resource for future structural engineers who will well serve this country in the military and private sectors,” added Parry.
The Center for Aircraft Structural Life Extension at the USAFA purchased an SGI Altix 4700 system with 512GB RAM and 32 Dual-Core Intel® Itanium® 2 processors running Novell® SUSE® Linux® Enterprise 10 with SGI ProPack™ 5 and an SGI InfiniteStorage TP9500 with 100TB storage. Installed by SGI’s exclusive education reseller James River Technical, Inc., the SGI Altix system is also equipped with Intel compilers for Fortran and C++ languages. The Center plans to open the SGI Altix system up to other research centers at the Academy.
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