AFRL introduces new sharable supercomputing capability for classified research

By: Bryan Ripple , 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

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Members assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Department of Defense leadership cut the ribbon for a new DoD super computer capability located at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, Feb. 26, 2019. This was the first-ever shared classified DoD high performance computing capability. (Courtesy photo)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) -- Air Force Research Laboratory and Department of Defense High Performance Computing Modernization Program officials hosted a ribbon cutting and groundbreaking ceremony Feb. 26 to unveil the first-ever shared classified Department of Defense high performance computing capability at the AFRL DoD Supercomputing Resource Center at Area B.

The ribbon cutting ceremony celebrated a significant milestone in the deployment of an overall shared classified computing capability at AFRL.

A big part of that capability is four state-of-the-art HPE SGI 8600 supercomputers, including one named “Mustang,” an unclassified supercomputer named in honor of the P-51 Mustang aircraft flown by the famous Tuskegee Airmen. The three other systems, Voodoo, Shadow and Spectre, named after the F-101 supersonic jet fighter, MC-130P Combat Shadow, and AC-130H gunship, respectively, support higher classification levels that impact critical DoD research areas and address increasing demand across the Defense Department.

This increased demand for shared, higher classification supercomputing was the reason for the groundbreaking portion of the ceremony. An additional 7,000 square feet of classified space, specifically designed to support supercomputers is being added with construction already in progress.

“This creates an environment for Air Force, Army, and Navy researchers to quickly respond to our nation’s most pressing and complex challenges, while also accelerating new capabilities to the warfighter at lower level costs to the taxpayer,” said Jeff Graham, AFRL DoD Supercomputing Resource Center director.

AFRL has leveraged the power of high-performance computing to accelerate research efforts for years while bringing new technologies to bear on critical mission areas. Computing needs are changing and must be secure to prevent adversaries from leveraging DoD knowledge and expertise.

“AFRL has been at the forefront of the effort to establish this capability for the DoD,” Graham said. “It shows our commitment to advancing computational tools being used to support the warfighter. The ability to share supercomputers at higher classification levels will allow programs to get their supercomputing work done quickly while maintaining necessary security. Programs will not need to spend their budget and waste time constructing their own secure computer facilities, and buying and accrediting smaller computers for short-term work. This new capability will save billions for the DoD while providing additional access to state-of-the-art computing.”

The AFRL Department of Defense Supercomputing Resource Center, created in 1994, is one of four sites included in the congressionally funded High-Performance Computing Modernization Program. Today, the DoD HPCMP supports world-class capabilities at AFRL and three other DSRC sites by funding high-performance computers, high-speed networking, multi-petabyte archival mass storage, and customer support.

“Let’s recognize that this whole effort is really about one purpose – providing the necessary tools for scientists and engineers so that they, in turn, can continue to do world-class research and develop the best systems for our warfighters,” said Kelly Dalton, AFRL DoD Supercomputing Resource Center technical director.

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