The Air Force Research Laboratory recently welcomed its newest supercomputer, a 1.28 petaflops Cray XC30 machine dubbed “Lightning,” nearly doubling its supercomputing power. Funded through the Department of Defense’s High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP), the $20.8 million supercomputer will push the boundaries on hypersonic flight, rocket propulsion and space situational awareness.
Lightning joins “Spirit,” a 1.5 petaflop SGI Altix Ice X system, inside the AFRL’s DoD Supercomputer Resource Center (DSRC). The AFRL relies on supercomputers for weapon system design, warfighting systems, and modeling and simulation studies. The powerful computational resources make it possible for Air Force researchers to address problems that are too large, hazardous, time-consuming, or expensive for physical testing.
Lightning gets its name from the Air Force’s F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter. The supercomputer comes with the Cray Sonexion Lustre storage system touting a total disk space of 4.5 petabytes.
“In 2014, HPCMP is acquiring over $150 million worth of supercomputing assets, and the first of these to actually provide compute cycles for our Research Development, Engineering, and Test community is Lightning,” said Christine Cuicchi, DoD associate director for High Performance Computing Centers, a featured speaker at the Sept. 23 ribbon-cutting.
“[Lightning] is a key cog to help us remain the greatest Air Force in the world,” said AFRL commander Maj. Gen. Thomas Masiello, another featured speaker. AFRL is on track to double its supercomputer power again with plans to add two more supercomputers by 2017.