Press Release

NASA’s Supercomputer Maintains Ranking, Supporting More Research

By SpaceRef Editor
November 15, 2011
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NASA’s Supercomputer Maintains Ranking, Supporting More Research

NASA’s largest supercomputer, Pleiades, maintained its status as seventh on the TOP500 list of the world’s most powerful, high-performance computers. The TOP500 list is created by a group of international supercomputing professionals who made the announcement on Nov. 14, 2011 at the 26th International Supercomputing Conference (SC11) in Seattle, Wash.

The 112,896-core Pleiades system, located at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., enables more than 1,000 scientific and engineering users to advance our understanding about the Earth, solar system and the universe, as well as to improve the design and safety of space vehicles for future space exploration.

“We’re pleased that Pleiades has maintained its position on the TOP500 list, and what we’re most proud of, are the discoveries and innovations that are made possible for important science and engineering projects across the agency,” said William Thigpen, systems and engineering branch chief in the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Division at Ames.

“To keep up with the ever-increasing demands by NASA’s top missions for supercomputing resources, we will be adding 1,700 new SGI ICE-X nodes to the existing Pleiades system in early 2012,” Thigpen added.

With the expansion, Pleiades’ peak performance will rise from its current 1.34 petaflops to about 1.7 petaflops. A petaflop is a measure of computer processing speed. Pleiades delivers about 17.5 million times the power of the first Cray X-MP supercomputer at the NAS facility in 1984.

Some examples of real-world science accomplishments enabled by supercomputing resources over the years include increasing space shuttle safety, hurricane tracking and prediction, estimating changes in the condition of our oceans and seas, and creating improvements on a heart assist device.

For more information about the TOP500 list, visit:

For more information about the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Facility, visit:

For more information about NASA, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.