News Briefs

November 16, 2009

World’s Fastest Supercomputer Goes Classified
Roadrunner, the world’s fastest supercomputer, is transitioning to classified projects to increase the safety, security and reliability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent. Located at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Roadrunner recently finished the shakedown phase of performing accelerated petascale computer modeling and simulations on 10 unclassified, fundamental science projects, including work on nonlinear physics of high-powered lasers and modeling nanowires at small time scales. The projects put a workload on the hybrid-architecture, 1.105 petaflop/s (one petaflop/s equals 1 million billion calculations per second) system that enabled scientists to optimize the way large codes run on the machine.

Multiband Radios Make Their Debut
Beginning this month, 14 government agencies across the U.S. are part of a pilot program testing a new multiband radio that enables first responders to talk to each other across frequency bands. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate developed the radio, which resembles current single-band emergency communications equipment but works on five frequency bands and can work on four additional bands used exclusively by the U.S. Defense Department, National Guard and Coast Guard. In addition, the radio, which weighs less than two pounds and has a battery life of more than 10 hours, receives weather reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and still functions even after being sprayed with a fire hose. The first version of the radios could be ready for the mass market by the middle of next year.

France Tests Network-Centric Systems
The French army has successfully tested several advanced command, control and situational awareness technologies under operational conditions. Held in late September and early October, the Architecture Real Time Integration System Testbench (ARTIST) experiment validated several key systems being developed for France’s Bulle Operationnelle Aeroterrestre (BOA), or Air-Land Operational Digitization (SIGNAL Magazine, September 2004). Conducted as a joint exercise with the German army in Germany, ARTIST centered on a command center, four vehicles, three robots, one drone and two units of soldiers. The event featured three scenarios to demonstrate the effectiveness of battlefield digitization: the reconnaissance of a village, a coordinated response to an enemy counterattack, and overcoming enemy units then capturing a village. ARTIST is the first of three planned BOA demonstrations that will continue until 2012. The BOA communications systems were manufactured by Thales Group, robot scouts by Nexter Systems and the situational awareness systems by Sagem.

Academia Studies Network Interaction
With approximately $35.5 million in funding over 10 years from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Penn State is launching an interdisciplinary center that researches network science. Collaborating with researchers at a number of other universities, scientists at Penn State’s Communication Networks Research Center will concentrate on the interplay among social/cognitive, information and communication networks. The Army is investing in the center in the hope that the research will help the service understand how warfighters, sensors and weapons communicate information through mobile, self-forming, rapidly changing networks. “Ultimately, we will be able to control the behavior of communication networks in a way that allows people to exchange the most important information,” Thomas La Porta, professor, Penn State, says.

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