FAA Replaces Computers With SGI Origin Servers

October 27, 2000

NEWS BRIEFS

Mountain View, CALIF. — SGI announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has purchased 104 SGI Origin 200 servers as part of a modernization program designed to upgrade Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) systems at major airports around the country.

TDWR provides timely and accurate detection of hazardous wind shear in and near airport terminal approach and departure corridors. This is vital because approximately 33% of all fatal accidents are weather-related, and of those weather-related fatal accidents almost 40% occur in the airport terminal area.

SGI Origin 200 servers will replace aging TDWR computers from Harris Corporation at 45 of the nation’s busiest airports that have high traffic and are most susceptible to wind shear. Each TDWR system will receive two SGI Origin 200 servers-one active and one that will serve as a backup system.

With embedded environmental sensors and a system controller that manages redundant power and cooling systems locally or at a remote location, SGI Origin 200 is resilient to failure. The servers feature ECC memory and cache, dual SCSI controllers, and hot-pluggable drives to ensure that uptime is maximized.

“The SGI Origin 200 server will provide TDWR with high reliability and availability through hardware redundancy and fault-tolerant software design, as well as serving as a platform for future systems upgrades and growth,” said Steve Shema of the FAA’s Wind Shear Product Team (AND-420), which is responsible for TDWR management and acquisition.

TDWR is a highly sensitive, high-resolution radar used to detect all types of wind shear in the airport terminal area. The system provides specific information on the location and strength of wind shear with sufficient warning to allow planes to avoid it. Weather data generated and displayed by TDWR is different from other available sources of weather information in that it comes in a readily understood format that can be read directly to pilots.

C-band Doppler technology is the key to TDWR. The system automatically detects and displays four information types for use by air traffic controllers and air traffic supervisors: microburst, gust front, wind shift prediction and precipitation intensity.

TDWR uses two types of displays to present the products. The first display is an alphanumeric display that contains only wind shear warnings. These warnings include the affected runway, type of warning (microburst or wind shear), strength of wind shear and location of wind shear relative to approach or departure. The warnings can be read directly to pilots without the need for interpretation. The second display is a color geographic display that shows all four TDWR products and is used by air traffic supervisors for planning purposes.

The radar system scans at five-minute intervals in two modes providing a full 360-degree monitoring sweep or a concentrated sector sweep in a hazardous weather region. TDWR also provides a one-minute update for initial wind shear information.

“By upgrading the existing TDWR systems with SGI Origin 200 servers, the FAA will achieve greater reliability and scalability at a fraction of the cost of maintaining the radar systems’ current computers,” said Anthony Robbins, president, SGI Federal. “We have provided a unique solution of excellent hardware, software and consulting services which will enable the FAA to transition to the new servers with a minimum of conversion issues.”

The SGI Origin 200 server was designed with an unmatched combination of low price/high performance and true scalability. A consistent ccNUMA architecture throughout the SGI Origin server product line allows for easy expansion or migration and protects financial investment now and in the future. SGI Origin 200 starts at a low entry price and allows customers to pay only for what they need now-with no additional cost for unused potential-and the flexibility to support an ever-increasing number of clients and applications.

The SGI Origin server product line runs the SGI IRIX 6.5 operating system and is one of the most important and mature UNIX operating system releases in the industry. SGI has leveraged the capabilities and benefits of industry-standard UNIX through its IRIX operating system technology. IRIX has been instrumental in enabling SGI to deliver generations of leading-edge, high-performance computing, advanced graphics and visual computing platforms.

SGI provides a broad range of high-performance computing and advanced graphics solutions that enable customers to understand and conquer their toughest computing problems. Headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., with offices worldwide, the company is located on the Web at http://www.sgi.com .

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