When the Hypersonic Missile Technology (HMT) team at COLSA Corporation and the U.S. Army need to model hypersonic flight on a computer system, they’ll no longer have to wait two months to get results. The HMT team, headed by senior scientist Dr. John Medeiros, now has access to one of the world’s largest and most powerful computers: a supercluster of 1,566 64-bit, dual-processor Apple Xserve G5 servers.
Called MACH5 – an acronym for Multiple Advanced Computers for Hypersonics – the Apple cluster “gives us more than 60 times the computational power of our current production machine,” says Medeiros. What used to take two months can now be done in a day. “A single person using a hand-held calculator – without pausing to eat or sleep – would need more than two million years to calculate what the Apple supercluster can calculate in a single second.”
“Once you have that kind of computational power,” Medeiros adds, “you can look at things with higher resolution and see other problems you want to investigate. Plus you can tackle much larger problems.”
Medeiros and the COLSA team chose the Xserve-based supercluster to model the complex aero-thermodynamics of hypersonic flight for the Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM) of the U.S. Army at nearby Redstone Arsenal. Working with the COLSA team, Drs. Billy Walker and Kevin Kennedy of RDECOM conduct leading-edge analysis of hypersonic flight for a number of important military programs.
At its peak, the supercluster can exceed 25 teraflops – calculating more than 25 trillion floating-point operations per second. By comparison, the world