High Performance Computing Modernization Program receives SOL Engineering upgrades
- By Katherine Owens
- Mar 27, 2017
The Department of Defense is enlisting the services of SOL Engineering, LLC (SOL) for laboratory research and testing and computational simulations to help maintain the DoD’s technical advantage in high performance computing.
According to a statement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ERDC), the HPCM program began in 1992 after Congress directed the DoD to modernize its laboratory computing methods. The program consolidated the independent computational work of the Army, Navy, and Air Force and now allows the use of high performance computing software and hardware in DoD operations and research, including risk assessment, and performance, efficiency, and resource evaluation.
“We would need to do a lot of lab work to find a solution by sprinkling in many combinations of elements from the periodic table, or we could do it in a high-throughput manner on a computer,” explained Dr. Krista Limmer, part of the Army Research Laboratory’s (ARL) Weapons and Materials Research Directorate, using a hypothetical example in a press release.
The HPCM program is divided into three subprograms: The DoD Supercomputing Resource Center (DSRC), the Defense Research and Engineering Network (DREN), and Software Application Support.
Located in Vicksburg, Mississippi, the DSRC is home to at least two supercomputers at any given time, reports the ERDC. These supercomputers are replaced every four years and are reported by the ERDC to have the ability to compute at a rate of up to 1.8 PFLOPS, or 1.8 quadrillion floating point operations per second. Access to these supercomputers allows defense scientists and researchers to model experiments and technological prototypes to accurately derive outcomes without expending resources on real-life experimentation that can be costly and dangerous.
DREN is the private network that connects all the DoD’s computing centers and laboratories with each other and with the DSRC. It is a high-capacity and high-speed network, with DoD statements on the HPCM program claiming it is able to transfer data at a rate of 50 Mbit/s. According to Federal Business Opportunity records, CenturyLink has been responsible for the network’s maintenance since 2012.
The Software Applications Support division is responsible for creating and funding three primary initiatives: The Software Applications Institutes, the Productivity Enhancement, Technology Transfer, and Training (PETTT) program, and the Computational Research and Engineering Acquisition Tools and Environment CREATE project.
Essentially, the Software Applications Institutes are cross-disciplinary initiatives that are formed within DoD laboratories in order to work on the actual computational development and problem-solving aspects of the HPCM program. Meanwhile, the PETTT program is more education-focused and builds teaching tools and libraries to train and improve those engaged in the HPCM program.
The CREATE project is more specifically focused on the modeling and testing aspect of the HPCM program, and is charged with developing large-scale simulation software for testing military aircraft, ships, and ground vehicles before they become operational, as described in a publication by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.
SOL has experience in laboratory-based experimentation, as well as computational modeling, according to the firm’s own statements. These two areas are applicable to the DoD’s High Performance Computing Modernization (HPCM) program in terms of both software implementation and real-time testing in defense research laboratories.
For its services in HPCM program consultation SOL received a firm-fixed-price contract of $9.95 million. It was one of four firms to bid on the contract, which was announced and awarded via the internet. Funding will be designated by individual work orders, while the overall service is expected to be complete by March 2022.
Katherine Owens is a freelance reporter for Defense Systems