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NASA Ames and SGI Team Receives NASA Honor Award For Supercomputer 08.22.2002

August 22, 2002
Award Given for Outstanding Contribution to space agency's mission.

In recognition of their outstanding work in creating the world's only 1,024-processor SGI Origin 3800 shared-memory supercomputer, a joint NASA Ames Research Center and SGI team received one of NASA's most prestigious awards, the NASA Honor Award for Group Achievement.

The annual NASA Honor Awards are granted to individuals and groups who have distinguished themselves by making outstanding contributions to the space agency's mission. Each award is approved by the NASA administrator and presented to a number of carefully selected individuals and groups.

In an awards ceremony at NASA Ames last month, the NASA Honor Award for Group Achievement was presented to the 1,024-Processor Single System Image SGI Origin 3000 Series Supercomputer Project Team "in recognition of outstanding effort and unprecedented accomplishment with the 1,024-processor single system image Origin 3000 series supercomputer." Team members on hand for the award presentation included representatives from NASA Ames and SGI.

Over the past year the NASA Ames and SGI team successfully installed the 1,024-processor SGI Origin 3800 supercomputer, the largest single system image (SSI) supercomputer in the world, migrating it from a prototype to a production machine. The SSI system is unique in that it uses a single operating system to control its 1,024 processors, a single shared memory, and the input/output subsystem. By providing coherent shared memory across 1,024 processors, this supercomputer has pushed shared memory technology beyond previous limits.

Significant technical advances beyond the state of the art were required to make the 1,024-processor SGI Origin 3800 supercomputer a success. Among those advances were the adaptation of the operating system to simultaneously run on all 1,024 processors, design of a cable configuration that was physically possible, creation of a methodology to adapt applications for efficient parallelism, and creation of application/system interface software for efficient system utilization.

"The 1,024-processor SGI Origin 3800 supercomputer is the culmination of five years of cooperative research and development between NASA Ames and SGI with the goal of developing successively larger SSI supercomputers," said John Ziebarth, NASA Advanced Supercomputing Division chief, NASA Ames. "This pioneering effort in SSI technology allows 1,024 processors to simultaneously work on a single problem at unprecedented levels of efficiency and is relevant to a wide variety of science and engineering applications that impact critical NASA missions in spacecraft design and climate research."

Increases in code performance on the SGI Origin 3800 supercomputer have had a major impact on NASA science. The SSI machine has allowed NASA scientists to complete intricate climate simulations and highly complex computational fluid dynamic modeling problems in days rather than months, leading to a better understanding of human activity and its relation to the earth's climate, as well as improving access to space through more efficient design of space vehicles.

Recently, cracks in the space shuttle's fuel delivery system liners were discovered, grounding the fleet until a solution is approved. Since the end of June, the NAS Division at Ames has been supporting the effort of returning the space shuttle to flight status. Researchers from Marshall Space Flight Center have used more than 240,000 processor hours on the 1,024-processor SGI Origin 3800 supercomputer to determine the cause of the cracks and their impact on safety, as well as the pros and cons of each repair choice.

The 1,024-processor SGI Origin 3800 supercomputer will enable the NAS Division to more than quadruple its computing cycles during the next year. In 2002 the division will run more than 3 million production cycles and expects to grant nearly 14 million in 2003.