Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has been selected by the US Department of Defence (DoD) to provide new supercomputers for the DoD High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP).

The contract, which has a total value of $57 million, will see HPE deliver four HPE SGI 8600 systems to the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

It was awarded by the US Army Corps of Engineers, based at the Engineering and Support Centre, Huntsville, Alabama.

The systems will support research into hypersonics and computational modelling of current and future advanced air, naval, and ground weapon systems and platforms.

Another three HPE SGI 8600 systems will go to the Navy DoD Supercomputing Resource Centre (DSRC) to support advanced weapons capabilities and provide increased reliability for the Navy’s global weather modelling.

“In our data-driven world, supercomputing is increasingly becoming a key to stay ahead of competition–this applies to national defence just as to commercial enterprises” said Bill Mannel, vice president and general manager, HPC and AI, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

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“The DoD’s continuous investment in supercomputing innovation is a clear testament to this development and an important contribution to US national security. HPE has been a strategic partner with the HPCMP for two decades, and we are proud that the DoD now significantly extends this partnership, acknowledging HPE’s sustained leadership in high performance computing.”

The HPE SGI 8600 is designed to solve the world’s most complex problems in areas including space sciences, engineering, manufacturing and national security. It was introduced in 2017, and is a sixth-generation system.

It forms part of the DoD HPCMP, first launched in 1992 to ensure the Defence Department stays ahead of the latest developments in computer technology.

One example of how the computers are used is to simulate wind tunnels for testing software models of helicopters before they are built. The programme’s chief of staff, Kevin Newmeyer, told Fortune magazine that they ‘create digital representations and images that match all the curves and everything else. Then we take the digital image and fly it using the supercomputers.’

The processing power required to carry out projects like these can take days even with powerful supercomputers.

HPE will also provide five years of 24/7 system support as part of the contract.

Because the DoD is required to buy supercomputers made in the US, its choices are limited to only a few companies, such as SGI and IBM.