Simulating the origins of
life and accurately predicting hurricane paths are just two revolutionary
applications that recently became a reality when NASA Ames Research Center, in
Moffett Field, Calif., and SGI installed the most powerful
parallel-processor supercomputer to date.

The 512-processor SGI(TM) Origin(TM) 3800 system — the largest
shared-memory configuration currently available in the SGI(TM) Origin(TM) 3000
server series — is the product of a collaborative effort between SGI and NASA
Ames to deliver unprecedented computing capabilities based on the patented
NUMA modular technology.

The SGI(TM) NUMAflex(TM) modular technology is a breakthrough
snap-together server system concept that allows customers such as NASA Ames to
configure — and reconfigure — systems brick by brick to meet the exact
demands of their applications. With the largest single-kernel, shared-memory
image available today, SGI Origin 3800 easily scales to 512 processors and a
terabyte of memory.

“SGI is proud to collaborate with NASA Ames and its world-class scientists
and engineers to help them analyze and solve America’s most complex problems,”
said Anthony Robbins, president, SGI Federal. “Together we are pushing the
boundaries of high-performance computing with the recent installation of a
512-processor SGI Origin 3800 modular supercomputer at NASA Ames that will be
used by NASA scientists for groundbreaking research in the areas of
aeronautics, earth sciences and life sciences.”

The 512-processor SGI Origin 3800 system at NASA Ames, which is able to
calculate airflow around an aircraft in a day instead of a year, will lead to
faster and better development of spacecraft, according to John Ziebarth,
deputy chief of the Numerical Aerospace Simulation (NAS) Division, NASA Ames.

“We said to SGI, ‘if you build a 512-CPU system using single system image,
then we have a technique that will speed up processing about 10 times,”’
Ziebarth said. “With large NASA computer codes, we are getting 10 times
improvement in performance.”

Working under a memorandum of agreement, NASA Ames and SGI have been
cooperating in order to push the boundaries of high-performance computing. It
was NASA Ames computer scientists who first encouraged SGI to connect many
computer processor chips in a new way when building its 512-processor

“We suggested that SGI wire its supercomputers to make each of the
hundreds of CPUs see each byte of RAM as the same image, so each change made
to the memory is seen by all 512 CPUs at once,” explained Bob Ciotti, NASA
Ames computer scientist.

NASA Ames also contributed other innovations that helped make the
512-processor SGI Origin 3800 supercomputer possible. For instance, NASA Ames
researcher Jim Taft invented a technique called shared-memory multilevel
parallelism that greatly simplifies authoring software for parallel-processor
supercomputers by enabling easy communications across many CPUs.

To make the prototype 512-processor SGI Origin 3800 single system image,
NASA Ames and SGI combined two 256-processor SGI Origin 3800 machines. Over
the next few months, NASA Ames and SGI will once again raise the bar for the
entire industry by connecting two 512-processor SGI Origin 3800 supercomputers
to form the world’s first 1,024-processor single system image.

“According to our projections, the 1,024-processor machine could deliver
about twice the performance of the 512-processor machine,” said
Bill Feiereisen, NAS chief, NASA Ames.

A previously installed SGI(TM) 2800 system at NASA Ames has helped NASA
scientists achieve monumental goals in technology research areas such as
computational fluid dynamics, global climate modeling and computational
astrobiology. But NASA Ames researchers are predicting even greater
performance from the 512-processor SGI Origin 3800 server.

“In one project under way at Ames, NASA scientists will be able to see
important features in hurricanes,” said Ciotti. “Data from satellites as well
as other observations analyzed on this class of machines will help us to learn
how to better predict hurricane behavior or better answer important questions
about global climate change.”

About NAS at NASA Ames

The mission of NAS is to lead the country in the research and development
of high-performance computers by being the first to develop, implement and
integrate new high-performance computing technologies into useful production
systems. NAS provides NASA and its customers with the most powerful, reliable
and usable high-performance production computing systems available.

About SGI

SGI provides a broad range of high-performance computing and advanced
graphics solutions that enable customers to understand and conquer their
toughest computing problems. Headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., with
offices worldwide, the company is located on the Web at

SGI, the SGI logo, NUMAflex and Origin are trademarks of Silicon
Graphics, Inc. All other trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their
respective owners.

Gregory Slabodkin, 301-595-2618, or, or PR
Hotline, 650-933-7777, or fax, 650-932-0737, both of SGI.