by Bryan Ripple
88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
12/17/2015 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The
power of Thunder could be felt in the basement of the Air Force
Research Laboratory's Department of Defense Supercomputing Resource
Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base during a ribbon-cutting
ceremony welcoming AFRL's third supercomputer to its Information
Thunder is part of the DOD High Performance Computing Modernization
Program. It joins two other large systems -- Spirit and Lightning --
already located at the center. The Silicon Graphics Incorporated ICE X
is named Thunder after the Air Force's P-47 Thunderbolt and its
subsequent namesake, the A-10 aircraft, both of which have played key
roles in significant armed conflict for the U.S. military.
Since beginning operations in October, Thunder has solved complex
simulations ranging from hypersonic flight to the limitations of a
futuristic electromagnetic rail gun.
"This is a big day for AFRL as we bring Thunder online. Researchers here
at Wright-Patterson will use it predominately in physics-based modeling
tools and data analytics as well -- another huge area where you need
the power of what Thunder brings to the table to be able to support the
outcomes that come out of those programs," said Doug Ebersole, executive director of the Air Force Research Laboratory.
Thunder is a powerful addition to the AFRL DSRC's computing lineup and a key technology enabler for DOD researchers.
"We're really getting to the point where we can replicate the testing
that we do in the laboratories or on the test stands in structural
analysis," Ebersole said.
"Thunder's capability is amazing, and reaffirms our commitment to
providing our customers with world-class computational tools," said Jeff
Graham, AFRL DSRC Director. "The power of Thunder will drive solutions
to the most challenging problems facing our nation in today's volatile
Aerospace engineer Susan Cox-Stouffer used computational fluid dynamic
simulations on the AFRL supercomputers to test the X-51 Waverider, a
hypersonic vehicle that reached more than five times the speed of sound
during flight tests over the Pacific Ocean.
"You can't design these on the back of an envelope," she said. "It takes a lot of simulations."
The newest supercomputer is the 21st fastest high-performance computing
system in the world, and can calculate about 3.1 petaFLOPS, or
3,126,240,000,000,000 floating point operations per second, according to