Cyber

US Army buys two new supercomputers to meet data analytics demand

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army has bought two new supercomputers to boost data analytics capabilities in response to customers across the military branches requesting such services.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a contract worth nearly $32 million to Colorado-based company Liqid. The computers will be installed at the Army Research Laboratory’s DoD Supercomputing Resource Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, according to an Aug. 11 announcement from the Department of Defense.

Offices across all the armed services primarily came to the resource center asking for help building models, but recently the resource center has received a spike in requests for mass data analytics services, said Matt Goss, director of the center.

“The primary customer base for the [High Performance Computing Modernization Program] has been the physics-based modeling, which are your weapons designers and that kind of stuff — it’s all based on physics effects. Now it’s more folks are focused on ‘I got this data from this model, how can I interrogate it? The way I’ve done it in the past with Excel and 20-year-old script isn’t efficient anymore because I have so much of it,’ ” Goss told C4ISRNET in an interview.

The High Performance Computing Modernization Program, or HPCMP, provides advanced computing capabilities to the DoD’s research, development, test and evaluation community.

The purchase of the two new supercomputers will add an additional 15 petaFLOPs — a unit of measurement for computer speed — to the HPCMP’s supercomputing capability. HPCMP’s supercomputing capability is now 82 petaFLOPS in aggregate.

“We’re talking about extremely high performance, extremely latest and greatest. Literally some of the cutting-edge technology that industry is offering is included in this machine,” Goss said.

He added that the demand for the new capabilities was high but declined to name any projects awaiting the delivery of the new capabilities. The new technology is meant to allow the HPCMP to expand its workload.

“These machines have the capability to do the physics-based modeling, but also have a significant capability for artificial intelligence and machine-learning applications,” said Thomas Kendall, supercomputing acquisition lead with the HPCMP and senior technical adviser to the director of the Army Research Lab’s Computational and Information Sciences Directorate.

The new supercomputers are expected to be ready for use in mid-fiscal 2021, according to an HPCMP news release. About $25.5 million in FY20 procurement funds were obligated at the time of the award.

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