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SIGNAL Online Exclusives

U.S. Army Welcomes Two New Draft Horses to Supercomputing Stable

June 21, 2013
By Max Cacas

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, has unveiled two new supercomputers that are among the fastest and most powerful devices of their kind. The devices are part of a recently opened supercomputing center that is the new locus of the service’s use of high-speed computing not only for basic scientific research and development, but also to solve basic warfighter needs using the latest available technologies.

“The Army Research Lab is the largest user of supercomputing capacity,” says Dale Ormond, director, U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM). “To have a supercomputer there gives us a huge advantage as we move forward in our research and engineering mission,” he adds.

At the heart of the new Army supercomputer center are two IBM iDataPlex systems that are among the most powerful of their kind on the planet. “We have the ‘Pershing,’ which is the 62nd fastest computer in the world, and another one called ‘Hercules,’ which is the 81st (fastest),” he explains. The Pershing contains 20,160 central processing units (CPUs), 40 terabytes of memory, and operates at 420 teraflops. The Hercules has 17,472 CPUs, 70 terabytes of memory, and operates at 360 teraflops.

The $5 million dollar center also features state-of-the-art electrical supply systems designed to support supercomputing, and special cooling systems designed to manage the heat that comes from all the CPUs that make up both supercomputers. The new facility has over 20,000 square foot of space, which will eventually house as many as six large supercomputing systems by 2016.

Pershing and Hercules join other Army supercomputers run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg, Mississippi, along with supercomputers operated by the Navy and Air Force.

Streamlining Coalition Mission Network Participation

June 17, 2013
By George I. Seffers

NATO and eight coalition nations participating in the Coalition Warrior Interoperability eXploration, eXperimentation and eXamination, eXercise (CWIX) are working to reduce the amount of time it takes to join coalition networks in the future. On average, it took a year or more for a nation to join the Afghan Mission Network, but officials hope to trim that down to a matter of weeks, says Lt. Col, Jenniffer Romero, USAF, the CWIX Future Mission Network focus area lead.

“On average, it was taking a year, maybe 18 months, for a nation to join the Afghan Mission Network, and usually we don’t have that much time,” says Col. Romero, who also serves as the chief, cyber assessments for the U.S. Joint Staff J6 Command, Control, Communications and Computers Assessments Division.

The network for future operations will be a federated network modeled after the Afghan Mission Network, for which NATO offered the core infrastructure that participating nations could connect with using their own networks. Col. Romero explains that the goal is to have core services up and running on “day zero,” which she defines as the day pre-deployment orders drop. “Our goal is for the lead nation or lead organization to have the core up and running on that day and for people to be able to join within weeks as opposed to months and months,” she says.

To streamline the process, officials are creating templates of instructions for joining future coalition networks, which NATO officials refer to as the Future Mission Network and U.S. officials dub the Mission Partner Environment. For the CWIX exercise, which runs from June 3-20, they have built a mission network that includes core services such as voice, chat, email and document handling. “We’re assessing those core enterprise services on a future mission network that was built for CWIX 13 specifically for that purpose,” the colonel states.

Cyber Commander Calls for Consolidated Activities

June 12, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

In the midst of a raging controversy over widespread National Security Agency (NSA) monitoring, the head of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command defends cyber surveillance efforts and calls for greater consolidation of cyber activities among diverse organizations.

Cyber, Security Focuses for Marine Forces Pacific

June 12, 2013
By Rita Boland

Cyberwarfare is a primary concern for the U.S. Marine Corps as it continues its rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region. With the growing involvement of cyber in every operation along with specific concerns of virtual attacks from large nations in the region, emphasis on the new domain is becoming increasingly important.

Telecommunications Supply Chain is Safe … for Now

June 5, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Concerns about the telecommunications supply chain have led U.S. network providers to institute extensive security procedures, but government officials are looking at establishing formal guidelines for procuring network components overseas—for better or worse.

Navy Keeps Up With Innovation Despite Tight Budgets

June 3, 2013
By Henry S. Kenyon

If necessity is the mother of invention, innovation will be the father as the U.S. Navy seeks new methods that will allow it to continue to modernize amid harsh budget constraints.

Microgrid Means Mega Advantages

May 31, 2013
By Rita Boland

Fort Bliss, Texas, has installed an unusual mircogrid to help power a dining facility on base, introducing a new approach to the U.S. Army’s efforts to find alternatives to traditional power. The technology is intelligent, optimizing energy usage.

DISA to Spend Summer Exploring Security in the Cloud

May 24, 2013
By Max Cacas

A hand-picked group of Defense Department’s top information technology experts will work with a giant in the cloud computing industry to determine how security will play a part on the military’s migration to the cloud.

How to Win Contracts When Lowest Price Is the Highest Measure

May 24, 2013
By Bev Cooper

The lowest price technically acceptable (LPTA) acquisition strategy, which focuses on price over value, has become the dominant approach that agencies are applying to federal contracting. The accelerated transition to this strategy has been fueled by sequestration and the growing need for government to do business at a reduced cost. Contractors are still learning how to operate in this new environment, but many fear that the emphasis on lower cost labor will reduce the expertise of the work force and result in lower levels of effort.

Intelligence Taps Industry for Essential Technologies

May 22, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

James Bond’s U.S. counterpart may be equipped more with commercial technologies than with systems developed in intelligence community laboratories. The private sector will be called upon to provide even more capabilities to help keep the intelligence community ahead of adversaries and budget cuts.

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