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InfiniBand Powers SGI Pleiades Super for Massive Space Weather Simulation

This week SGI announced that the Pleiades supercomputer at NASA Ames powered a huge space weather simulation enabled by the system’s high-speed interconnect. With over 60 miles of InfiniBand cabling and Mellanox components, the SGI ICE supercomputer has the largest IB network of any HPC system in the current Top 500 list.

Accessing up to 25,000 processor cores on Pleiades, Dr. Homa Karimabadi said that his group can run ‘kinetic’ simulations that treat each electron with its full properties and understand how electrons allow reconnection to occur. In the local simulations, electrons are treated as individual particles. In the global simulations, electrons are treated as fluids and ions (electrically charged atoms) as particles. With Pleiades, simulations can run for five days straight, enabling many parameter studies. Among recent findings is that magnetic reconnection by itself is quite turbulent, producing vortices in the plasma that create many interacting flux ropes-twisted bundles of magnetic field. As observed by spacecraft, flux ropes can extend several times the radius of Earth.

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