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Source: HPCwire, June 13, 1997
Science and Engineering News

Pasadena, Calif. -- At a dedication ceremony June 9, the California Institute of Technology showcased the most powerful technical computing system developed by the Hewlett-Packard Company, a 256-CPU Exemplar technical server. The Exemplar system, which features peak performance of 184 gigaflops, 64 gigabytes of memory, and one terabyte of attached disk capacity, will serve as the premiere computing resource for Caltech's Center for Advanced Computing Research (CACR) and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (For more information, see HPCwire article 11323, "HP'S 256-CPU SYSTEM AT CALTECH/JPL TO MERCEDIZE IN FUTURE," 06.06.97.)

Computational scientists and engineers at Caltech and JPL will use the system for a number of "grand challenge" research applications in science and engineering, including chemistry, biology, astrophysics, computational fluid dynamics, nuclear physics, geophysics, environmental science, space science, and scientific visualization. For example, the Exemplar will be used to model the world's atmosphere and oceans to better understand climatic shifts, study the dynamics of pollutants in the atmosphere, simulate the evolution of the universe, study the collisions between electrons and molecules that drive the chemistry in plasma reactors used in microelectronics manufacturing, and provide interactive access to large multispectral astronomy databases, creating a "digital sky."

The installation of a 256-processor Exemplar is the first of a three-phase collaborative project between HP and Caltech. The collaboration will include work on a range of systems software areas, such as implementing efficient support of shared-memory programming on a large number of processors. The second phase of the collaboration includes installation of an Exemplar system based on the Intel IA-64 processor. (IA-64 is Intel architecture-64-bit, jointly defined by HP and Intel.) The final project phase provides for expansion of that Exemplar system to provide peak performance of as much as one teraflop (one trillion computations per second) and one terabyte (1,024 gigabytes) of physical memory.

"The collaboration between Caltech and HP is a strategic scalable computing partnership that will provide a powerful research resource with a single programming model that can be applied to computational science and engineering applications using UNIX systems, even for programs so large that their execution requires the use of the entire system," said Paul Messina, CACR director and assistant vice president for scientific computing at Caltech. "The Exemplar server is a very powerful system with features that researchers tackling today's ever larger and more complex applications have been seeking for a long time."

"NASA scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory will employ the Exemplar system to tackle the most challenging issues in spacecraft design and space science data analysis," said Carl Kukkonen, manager of supercomputing at JPL. According to Kukkonen, the Exemplar will be used to analyze and visualize data from Mars, calculate the precise gravitational fields of Mars and the moon, model the solar wind, conduct high-fidelity modeling of Earth's oceans, process synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images in near real time, and design and simulate new generations of spacecraft.

"We are very enthusiastic about collaborating with the innovative team at Caltech to develop the `commodity teraflops' that the market is looking for," said Steve Wallach, chief technology officer at HP's Convex Division, part of the Enterprise Server Group. "Because of HP's long-term commitment to high-end technical computing, we understand the importance of providing the platforms that advanced researchers require. In technical computing, there is no doubt that the supercomputer performance of today will be the workstation performance of tomorrow and the desktop of the future."

Caltech's Center for Advanced Computing Research conducts multidisciplinary application-driven research in computational science and engineering and participates in a variety of high-performance computing and communications activities. JPL's Supercomputing Project has partnered with Caltech for the last decade to provide state-of-the-art computing facilities to enable breakthrough science and engineering for JPL's NASA space missions. For more information see and

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