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SGI Altix Supercomputer System at NASA Achieves Petaflop Scale


NASA Pleiades Now the World’s Largest Single x86 System

FREMONT, Calif. and HAMBURG, Germany, ISC 2011 — SGI (NASDAQ: SGI), a trusted leader in technical computing, today announced that NASA’s Pleiades supercomputer system, built with SGI® Altix® ICE technology, has achieved more than one petaflop/second in sustained compute performance based on the LINPACK performance benchmark, and has now moved into the #7 spot on the June 2011 Top500 list of supercomputer sites in the world. The Pleiades system is run by the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Division at Ames Research Center, and represents NASA’s state-of-the-art technology for meeting the agency’s supercomputing requirements, enabling scientists and engineers across the nation to conduct modeling and simulation for NASA missions.

NASA’s Pleiades system contains 182 SGI Altix ICE compute racks, consisting of 111,104 cores of Intel® Xeon® processors. The system now contains 185.3 TB of total shared memory, two SGI® InfiniteStorage 15000 RAID arrays, and 5.1 petabytes of storage. This new configuration is built on the largest InfiniBand™ cluster in the world, containing a partial dual-plane 11D hypercube InfiniBand network topology plus seven Lustre file systems.

Named after the astronomical open star cluster of the same name, NASA’s Pleiades system now consists of three generations of SGI Altix ICE, three generations of Intel® Xeon® processor series, and two generations of InfiniBand, all managed as a single system, demonstrating the power and flexibility of Altix ICE to span multiple generations.

“We congratulate NASA on this profound achievement,” said SGI CEO Mark J. Barrenechea. “The Pleiades system demonstrates that the standards-based technologies in Altix ICE have the potential to scale to the levels of the largest supercomput ers in the world, thus setting the stage for the exascale computers of the future.”

“The close partnership of NASA, Intel and SGI over the years has resulted in the world-class capability available today on the Pleiades system,” said Rupak Biswas, chief of the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Division at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. “We look forward to even more exciting discoveries as we extend NASA’s high-end computing capabilities in the future.”

“NASA’s Pleiades system highlights both the scalability of Intel® Xeon® series processors and the growth of our relationship with NASA and SGI,” said Raj Hazra, general manager of High Performance Computing at Intel. “Being based on a standard x86 programming environment means that a wide range of users can benefit without the need for porting their code, and we look forward to the exciting discoveries that this new Altix ICE system configuration that NASA has developed will bring to the world.”

About NAS
The NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Division provides world-class high-end computing, storage, and associated services to enable scientists and engineers supporting NASA missions to broadly and productively employ large-scale modeling, simulation, and analysis to achieve successful mission outcomes.

About SGI
SGI, a trusted leader in technical computing, is focused on helping customers solve their most demanding business and technology challenges. Visit for more information.

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For more information about the Pleiades supercomputer, visit

For information about the Top500 List, visit


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