NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

A Cray supercomputer has been installed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to give JPL and California Institute of Technology researchers greater power in solving complex scientific problems.

The Cray X-MP/18 supercomputer -- capable of performing millions of calculations per second -- is being leased from Cray Research Inc. by Caltech, JPL's parent organization.

The system will serve JPL and Caltech researchers working in areas ranging from studies of climates on the Earth and other planets to image processing, spacecraft navigation and design, radio astronomy and solar system physics.

"The Cray supercomputer represents vital piece of the infrastructure JPL needs to carry out our responsibilities for NASA," said JPL's director, Dr. Lew Allen, who played strong role in establishing supercomputing capability at the Laboratory.

The Cray X-MP/18 system's central clock has speed of 9.5 nanoseconds -- meaning that the basic "drumbeat" pacing the supercomputer takes place more than 100 million times per second.

Central memory in the Cray X-MP/18 has capacity of 512 million bits of data.

Because of its speed and power, the Cray system will be useful to JPL and Caltech users in solving "computationally intensive" problems, said Dr. Carl A. Kukkonen, manager of JPL's Supercomputing Project, which will operate the Cray.

Tasks that would occupy weeks or months of time on conventional mainframe computer can be finished in fraction of that time on supercomputer, Kukkonen added.

Many problems in space sciences are difficult to solve because scientists are working with huge sets of data.

Images sent to Earth by planetary spacecraft or Earth satellites, for example, may require tens of millions of bits of digital data to make up each picture.

The orbiting platforms of the Earth Observing System (Eos), NASA project to study the Earth beginning in the mid-1990s, will send back 1 trillion bits of data each day.

"Analyzing and processing these large data sets to provide maps or images of quantities such as global temperature or ozone concentration require supercomputer," said Kukkonen.

The Cray X-MP/18 will be among diverse range of computing resources available to the JPL and Caltech staff. Campus and JPL researchers conceived and are developing new versions of Hypercube, which uses novel internal architecture -- up to 128 computer processors linked together -- to solve problems extremely quickly.

Plans call for future upgrades of the Cray X-MP/18 to extend its power.





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June 9, 1989

News media representatives are invited to attend dedication and tour of the new Cray X-MP/18 supercomputer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Wednesday, June 14.

The event will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. at JPL's Information Processing Center, Building 601, at 500 W. Woodbury Road, Altadena.

Attending will be senior officials from JPL, the California Institute of Technology and Cray Research Inc. The supercomputer is being leased from Cray Research by Caltech, JPL's parent organization.

For more information, please contact the JPL Public Information Office.

Editors: Please note that this event is not open to the general public. Also note the address, approximately five minute drive from JPL's main site.

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