NASA Upgrades Pleiades Super, Comes in at #11 on TOP500

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Patience Wait from Information Week writes that a recent upgrade is helping the Pleiades supercomputer tackle NASA’s most complex challenges, from understanding solar flares to designing new space vehicles.

As we move toward NASA’s next phase in advanced computing, Pleiades must be able to handle the increasing requirements of more than 1,200 users across the country who rely on the system to perform their large, complex calculations,” said Rupak Biswas, chief of the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) division at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. “Right now, for example, the system is being used to improve our understanding of how solar flares and other space weather events can affect critical technologies on Earth. Pleiades also plays a key role in producing high-fidelity simulations used for possible vehicle designs such as NASA’s upcoming Space Launch System.”

Completed in June, the upgrade to the SGI Altix ICE system included new Intel Sandy Bridge processors to raise Pleiades’ sustained performance rate by 14%, to 1.24 Petaflops. They also updated what NASA described as the world’s largest InfiniBand network in the world, with 65 miles of cabling. For versatility and optimal performance, this system interconnect features a unique topology that now supports FDR InfiniBand.

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