DoD Leverages Supercomputing

Computational science and High Performance Computing deliver real value to warfighters

Department of Defense (DoD) scientists and engineers require massive computing power to solve complex challenges that can mean the difference in protecting our nation. The DoD’s High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP) provides supercomputing systems with more than 1 million compute cores, distributed across five DoD Supercomputing Resource Centers (DSRCs), scientific applications software, and tools and methods to address these requirements. These facilities enable simulations that perform quadrillions of calculations per second.

DoD researchers rely on these facilities to simulate and evaluate everything from advanced materials, to weather patterns, down to molecular biology and movements of atoms. These studies result in more resilient armored vehicles, faster hypersonic aircraft, and novel warfighter capabilities once only imagined.

Over the last 10 years, SAIC has managed the Productivity Enhancement, Technology Transfer, and Training (PETTT) program within the HPCMP to keep pushing HPC performance higher and help DoD scientists and engineers do their work better, faster, and less expensively. In fact, our people have been delivering a unique blend of scientific domain know-how and computational expertise to the program since 1996.

PETTT body 1 weather pattern
DoD scientists and researchers are using high performance computing to study weather patterns.

Our PETTT team members work in close collaboration with the DoD’s science and technology, acquisition engineering, and test and evaluation communities on enhancing current and future workflows and on technology advancement. They:

  • Provide expert advice and assistance in scientific software development and applications.
  • Configure and install computational applications and tools.
  • Debug non-working software code and optimize code to run more efficiently on HPC resources.
  • Support requests fielded on-site at customer locations.
  • Bring new HPC tools and technologies to users and provide training on how to best leverage them.

“The work we do ranges from helping users do their jobs incrementally or evolutionarily better to developing entirely new capabilities,” said Hugh Thornburg, SAIC’s program technical lead. “They need accurate, appropriate fidelity tools that can provide data in a timely manner to make critical decisions that impact warfighters.”

Tackling the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force’s scientific and engineering problems using just physical experiments and natural observation is impractical, time-consuming, and dangerous. So, physics-based modeling and simulation is used to gain valuable insight about how a new vehicle, for example, would perform in the physical world as it interacts with adversaries and complex natural phenomena.

Our PETTT team routinely helps improve HPC performance within computational models that raises simulation accuracy and by refining computational methodologies. The team also investigates and recommends HPC accelerator hardware.

Only with the most advanced supercomputers and massive data storage resources can the demanding computational analyses for the simulations be done in days instead of months or even years. Consider the numerical simulation of air flow around an aircraft landing gear: it produces hundreds of terabytes of pressure, temperature, sound pressure level, and other flow-field data. That may be just part of one project among hundreds of projects throughout the country.

PETTT body 2 F-35
SAIC analyzed model requirements for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and helped develop a modeling workflow.

AI and data analytics take efficiency further

Delivering an aggregate supercomputing capability that will soon reach 57 petaFLOPS, the HPCMP has implemented significant capabilities to support artificial intelligence, data analytics, and machine learning that will help determine solutions even faster.

With the data analytics toolsets we are helping to create and deliver, scientists and engineers can mine and leverage vast amounts of data, targeting needles of critical information in haystacks. Digital modeling and optimization technologies can intelligently drive design exploration and trade space studies to consider alternatives quickly. Artificial neural networks can produce approximations with sufficient levels of accuracy, called reduced-order models, expediting predictive results.

The PETTT team comprises a mix of computational scientists with deep domain expertise in HPCMP’s 12 computational technology areas that include chemistry, biology, material science, climate modeling, and fluid dynamics, to name a few. This means that they not only understand the underlying science but also software development, giving the customer a turnkey solution. Unhindered by the computational complexities of their projects, HPC users can focus on scientific advancement.

“PETTT is the confluence of math, physics, science, and high performance computing,” said John Granacki, SAIC’s program director. “We operate at the intersection, bringing together subject matter experts and HPC resources to accelerate capabilities that protect and enhance our warfighters.”

FURTHER READING: See how high performance computing enables digital engineering at DoD and unlocks new paths to mission success. SAIC's experts are at the center of DoD's digital engineering initiatives.

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