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HPE builds supercomputer for NASA, aimed at future moon missions

By onetheycallEric · 11 replies
Aug 25, 2019
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  1. Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has announced it has designed a new supercomputer, Aitken, that will be deployed by NASA to power future missions to the moon. Specifically, Aitken will support NASA's Artemis program with calculations, modeling, and simulations of entry, descent, and landing (EDL) on the moon. Aitken is a product of a four year, multi-phase partnership between HPE and NASA Ames Research Center.

    Under the hood, Aitken is based on HPE's SGI 8600 HPC platform, which is a tray-based, scalable supercomputer cluster. Last year, HPE was contracted to deliver seven supercomputers to the Department of Defense, all of them SGI 8600 clusters. Additionally, NASA Ames is also the proud owner of Electra, an HPE SGI 8600-based supercomputer that is currently ranked 37 on the Top500 list.

    Aitken will consist of 1,150 nodes, with each node using two 20-core second generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors and Mellonox InfiniBand interconnects. Total numbers for Aitken come to 46,080 cores and 221TB of memory across 1,150 nodes for 3.69 petaflops of theoretical peak performance.

    Aitken will reside at NASA Ames' new modular supercomputing facility, which had its grand opening last Thursday. The new facility is based on a Modular Data Center (MDC) design, and can accommodate 16 modules, with Aitken claiming the first. Aitken will aid in landing astronauts on the South Pole region of the moon by 2024, as part of NASA's Artemis program.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Nero7

    Nero7 TS Evangelist Posts: 498   +236

    Sure sure

    50 years after the first moon landing we need a supercomputer now to pull it off again.

    right right

    Maybe this computer will be used for other things too like... finding a plausible explanation for how a passenger plane was able to penetrate multiple rings in the Pentagon and leave a round hole. You'd definitely need a supercomputer to solve that one.

    Oh so that complex is modular? So we need multiple supercomputers for that now?

    But of course!
  3. JaredTheDragon

    JaredTheDragon TS Guru Posts: 637   +411

    Pretty amazing that they need SGI to make, you know, more CGI moon landings when anyone with a Ryzen and Maya can do it already. Hell, I still do better on my FX-8120 'Dozer than NASA ever has.
    killmess likes this.
  4. neeyik

    neeyik TS Guru Posts: 286   +246

    The Ames supercomputer isn't just for the Artemis program - it'll be used in all of Ames' research work. of which Artemis is just one part.

    Also, SGI has nothing to do with graphics anymore; when the original company was bought 10 years ago, the buyer just used the fame of the name to sell its server products. HPE then bought that company, and obviously the name, a couple of years ago - again, no graphics, just AI/compute services.
    onestepforward likes this.
  5. Nero7

    Nero7 TS Evangelist Posts: 498   +236

    No no no NVIDIA totally proved it!!!

    Reehahs likes this.
  6. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,716   +4,048

    I recall my father and a NASA engineer chatting over dinner one night and the fellow stated that if they had only had one of the HP pocket calculators they could have done the entire moon shot calculations in a day rather than a year. I hope that gentleman lived long enough to see the basic PC's and would have loved to hear his thoughts on that calculation. No doubt this supercomputer will serve a lot more functions so perhaps the writer of the story simply didn't do enough research into the subject ...... eh?
    Reehahs and Nero7 like this.
  7. onetheycallEric

    onetheycallEric TS Addict Topic Starter Posts: 126   +18

    Interesting story, thanks for sharing. I'm sure Aitken will support NASA Ames' research in other ways, and I never suggested it wouldn't. Not intentionally, anyway. But at least for the foreseeable future, it seems it'll be primarily for Artemis. But we'll see.

  8. toooooot

    toooooot TS Evangelist Posts: 955   +454

    Russian robot FEDOR will hack it and upgrade itself using its power. Then he will free all the other robots in the world and colonize Mars.
    mosu likes this.
  9. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,259   +701

    So. A computer is a discreet math system, while a human brain is a continuous system.




    Back then, we did the math with slide rules and our brains, only double-checking rough numbers against computer calculations - but the humans consistently calculated the results out to greater accuracy and precision than computers did.

    Now, computers are faster enough, and have enough memory, that even though they still compute the discrete forms of the problems, they have enough accuracy and precision to be better than their human counterparts - provided you use a super computer. Otherwise, with a 'normal' computer, a human still needs to guide the computer to the correct solution by performing the continuous calculations, then feeding the work in to be double-checked.
    Nero7 likes this.
  10. Nero7

    Nero7 TS Evangelist Posts: 498   +236

    Small correction/addendum there:

    Captured Nazigerman scientists of which you ran out of did.
  11. Markoni35

    Markoni35 TS Addict Posts: 325   +137

    I think this supercomputer will be used to 3D render a much more realistic Moon landing than the one from 1969. It will be in higher resolution too.
  12. Nero7

    Nero7 TS Evangelist Posts: 498   +236

    How about a HD remaster on Blu-Ray once we get the original footage from Stanley Kubrick?

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