AMD and Nvidia keep Navy afloat in Mississippi

Powering new superdupercomputer

Jon Peddie

One of the Defense Department's most powerful supercomputer centers, located at the U.S. Navy Department of Defense Supercomputing Resource Center (DSRC) Stennis Space Center, Mississippi, will more than triple its computing power. The additions to the Navy DSRC will be based on a Cray Shasta platform that will have 290,304 AMD EPYC 7002-series processor cores, and 112 Nvidia Volta V100 AIBs. The hardware will be interconnected through Cray’s Slingshot 200 Gbps network. And the Shasta will have a total of 590 TB of storage and 14 petabytes (PB) of usable storage, including 1PB of NVMe-based solid date drive storage.

All this power will be used for aircraft, ships, and environmental modeling. It will also track hurricanes and their intensity. The Navy’s new supercomputer is set to live in the same Mississippi location where a U.S. Department of Homeland Security data center will also be built.

“Naval Oceanography’s ability to be the Department of Defense’s authoritative source for characterizing and applying data of the physical battlespace into a decisive advantage for naval, joint and allied forces hinges on the continual upgrade and advancements in high-performance computing from the HPCMP High-Performance Computing Modernization Program].”

That's just one Cray Shasta supercomputer making its way into the U.S.' defense system. In August, Cray signed three high-performance computing contracts with the Pentagon worth more than $71 million: one for the U.S. Air Force and one Cray CS500 cluster supercomputer each for the Army Research Lab and U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center.

“The investment and increase in supercomputing power at the Navy DSRC at Stennis Space Center is absolutely critical to Naval Oceanography delivering future capability upgrades to global and regional ocean and atmospheric prediction systems, to include later this year the Navy’s first Earth Systems Prediction Capability,” Rear Admiral John Okon, head of Navy Meteorology and Oceanography Command, said in a statement accompanying the announcement.

At the Naval Research Lab at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, engineers combine air, ocean, and wave prediction systems to improve forecasting of tropical cyclones in order to create effective search and rescue, and mission planning. 

The new Cray computer will also be used on weather forecastings such as tracking hurricanes and their intensity.

Christine Cuicchi, director of the Navy's DoD Supercomputing Resource Centers (Navy DSRC), said: “While the new supercomputer itself will be quite the workhorse, it is complemented by a host of additional tools and services that the Navy DSRC offers in support of DoD users’ research activities.”

“Most people wouldn’t expect Mississippi to be one of the premier locations for large-scale supercomputing, but we are, and this new system will solidify our presence in the HPC community,” she added.