The outer doors of NASA's Scalable Compute Unit 14 (SCU14). (Photo: Courtesy of the NASA Center for Climate Simulation)

CSRA Inc. (NYSE:CSRA) has acquired another compute expansion under its High Performance Computing (HPC) contract with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). This latest HPC system expansion represents the 14th incremental expansion of the Scalable Compute Unit (SCU14) architecture employed at NASA Goddard's HPC center.

The expansion will support the NASA Center for Climate Simulation (NCCS), which provides a central HPC resource pool for NASA-sponsored scientists and engineers. The NCCS is part of the Computational and Information Sciences and Technology Office (CISTO) of the GSFC Sciences and Exploration Directorate. Its mission is to enable scientists to increase their understanding of the earth, the solar system, and the universe by supplying a range of advanced computing and data analytics solutions.

“Through this procurement, NASA GSFC will have expanded capacity, further enhancing its HPC capabilities,” said Executive Vice President Paul Nedzbala, head of CSRA’s Health and Civil Group. “This is CSRA’s third Skylake-based HPC systems procurement in the past three months. We are excited to deliver these solutions for NASA and deploy the latest technological advancements.”

"This HPC expansion brings our compute capacity to over 50 petaFLOPS for all CSRA HPC contracts across the federal government,” said Sharon Hays, PhD., Director of CSRA’s HPC Center of Excellence. “This HPC expansion will help NASA researchers meet their mission objectives and bring a greater understanding of the earth’s climate system."

The NCCS’ integrated set of computational capabilities includes supercomputing, virtualization environments, analytics-as-a-service, visualization, data services/sharing technologies, and storage.

These capabilities have expanded to include:

  • A Big Compute private cloud, known as the Advanced Data Analytics Platform (ADAPT)
  • The Data Analytics and Storage System (DASS), which combines HPC and storage services into a single, data-centric system to serve both traditional and emerging data analytics
  • Remote Visualization: large processing technology within the HPC environment which renders images sent back to the user's desktop
  • Mass Storage, which includes a data archive
  • NASA’s Discover Supercomputer (the core HPC system)

This latest augmentation of Discover brings its compute capacity to approximately 5 petaFLOPS. A petaFLOP is a unit of computing speed equal to one thousand million million (1015) floating-point operations per second.

The system is provided by Edge Solutions & Consulting, Inc., headquartered in Westlake Village, California and includes options for additional capacity over the next two years. Edge is a certified, woman-owned small business systems integrator that provides enterprise-class solutions for complex enterprise-class customers.

In addition to their focus in assisting clients with planning, project management, implementation, and engineering, Edge is also a hardware and software reseller. It partners with original equipment manufacturer (OEMs) to deliver solutions that best serve a customer's needs. The equipment is supplied by Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in enterprise computing, storage, networking solutions, and green computing technology.

The SCU14 solution includes Intel’s® Skylake processor technology and Omni-Path (OPA) interconnect technology – the NCCS’ first deployment of OPA. Specifically, it includes:

  • 528 Fat Twin Compute Nodes
  • 28 Twin Pro Service Nodes and 24 I/O Nodes
  • 2:1 Oversubscription
  • 240GB SSD per Compute Node
  • OPA interconnect

The Supermicro HPC Cluster Solution for SCU14 is based on Supermicro FatTwin™ server nodes, each equipped with dual 20-core Intel® Xeon® Gold 6148 processors and Intel® 4600 SSDs for persistent storage. The FatTwin™ SuperServer® F619P2-RT is an 8-node 4U system, with each node supporting 12 DIMM slots and six front hot-swap SSDs. To provide high-speed interconnect, the cluster employs Omni-Path (OPA) 100G 48-port top-of-rack managed network switches. The Supermicro 42U racks for this fully integrated HPC cluster solution are equipped with Motivair ChilledDoor® solution to maximize the cooling efficiency for improved power usage effectiveness (PUE).

“Global research leaders, like those at NASA, drive new discoveries that enrich our understanding of the universe and improve the lives of everyone,” said Trish Damkroger, Vice President of Technical Computing at Intel. “Intel’s balanced technology portfolio and close collaboration with leading system vendors like Supermicro helps put the most powerful computational tools in the hands of scientists to tackle the most difficult challenges facing society.”

CSRA is a leader in HPC services and offers a wide variety of solutions for government customers to achieve important mission objectives. In August, the company announced the installment of a second increment to the Biowulf supercomputing cluster at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Center for Information Technology. Last April, CSRA was awarded a $51 million contract to support the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) HPC systems.

CSRA has been a strong partner to NASA, supporting its NCCS HPC needs since 2000 – and NASA Ames’ HPC even longer. In late 2005, NASA and CSRA deployed the first SCU with a compute capacity of only 6.9 teraFLOPS, ranking No. 54 on the November 2005 HPC Top500 list.

In addition to NIH and the EPA, CSRA supports supercomputers used by NOAA, the CDC, and the Department of Defense. This technology is used for applications ranging from aerospace system design, climate and weather modeling, astrophysics, ecosystems modeling, to health and medical research.