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NASA's Pleiades Supercomputer Ranks Among World's

From: NASA News <hqnews.nul>
Date: Mon, 20 Jun 2011 12:03:14 -0600
Archived: Tue, 21 Jun 2011 09:36:59 -0400
Subject: NASA's Pleiades Supercomputer Ranks Among World's

June 20, 2011

Rachel Hoover/Jill Dunbar
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
rachel.hoover.nul  / jill.dunbar.nul

RELEASE: 11-194


WASHINGTON -- NASA's largest supercomputer is seventh on the
TOP500 list of the world's most powerful, high-performance
computers. The announcement was made at the 26th International
Supercomputing Conference in Hamburg, Germany.

Pleiades, located at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett
Field, Calif., supports more than 1,000 active users around the
country who are advancing our knowledge about the Earth, solar
system and the universe. Pleiades is used to meet the computing
needs on NASA's most demanding modeling and simulation projects
in aeronautics; Earth and space science; exploration systems and
technologies; and future space operations.

"We're really excited that Pleiades delivered nearly 83 percent
of the theoretical peak performance," said Rupak Biswas, chief
of the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Division at Ames.
"This means our science and engineering users get extremely
efficient use of their computing time on the system. Reaching
the sustained petaflop per second rate is a significant
milestone for NASA and its industry partners."

Since last June, the NAS Division has implemented a series of
expansions to the system's performance capabilities. The team
recently added 14 new SGI(R) Altix(R) ICE 8400 systems so that
Pleiades now contains 23,296 Intel(R) Xeon(R) quad- and hex-core
processors (111,104 cores in 182 racks) that can run at a
theoretical peak of approximately 1.32 quadrillion floating
point operations, or calculations, per second. It achieved an
official sustained rate of 1.09 petaflop per second using the
LINPACK benchmark, the industry standard for measuring a
system's floating point computing power.

Pleiades runs on three generations of Intel-based processors
with varying memory per core across two generations of
InfiniBand(R) technology. The latest hex-core Intel(R) Xeon(R)
5600 (Westmere) and earlier quad-core 5570 (Nehalem) processors
run at a speed of 2.93 GHz, while the original Pleiades 5400
(Harpertown) quad-core processors run at 3 GHz.

Since its installation in 2008, scientists have run large-scale
jobs on Pleiades to gain insight into Earth's ocean and climate
variability; reduce harmful emissions from aircraft; and design
future vehicles for planetary and space exploration. The system
also has been critical to supporting debris damage assessment on
space shuttle missions and gave managers data about critical
decisions to perform repairs and clear the orbiter for safe

The NAS facility continues to feature the world's largest
InfiniBand(R) interconnect network with 11,648 nodes and more
than 63 miles of cabling -- long enough to reach the "frontier
of space" from the surface of Earth. The double data rate, quad
data rate and hybrid cables interconnect Pleiades' nodes with
mass data storage systems and the hyperwall-2 visualization
system. This allows scientists to concurrently view and analyze
their data while their computational jobs run, often leading to
the discovery of previously unknown details in their ultra-large

For more information about the Pleiades supercomputer, visit:


For information about the TOP500 list, visit:


For information about NASA and agency programs, visit:



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