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Defense Department High-Performance Computing Centers Extend Their Contract with Altair for a Third Year

Jennifer Ristic
Airfoil Public Relations

Altair’s PBS Professional software plays key role in military’s modernization program, providing a single job-management system for R&D and testing centers

Troy, Mich., USA, June 15, 2009 — Altair Engineering, a global provider of technology and services empowering client innovation and decision-making, today announced that the U.S. Department of Defense has exercised its option to continue using Altair’s PBS Professional software as the standard workload management solution for its High-Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP).

The Altair software currently schedules runs on the department's centers for scientific research and development and for testing and evaluation. These high-performance computing centers include facilities at the Aberdeen (Md.) Proving Ground; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio; and the Navy DoD Supercomputing Resource Center on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, as well as sites in Vicksburg , Miss.; and Fairbanks, Ala. In all, the systems at these facilities furnish a total 1.3 petaFLOPS of computational power (1.3 thousand trillion floating point operations per second).

In 2006, Altair earned a two-year contract to provide PBS Professional for these centers, with a series of eight one-year renewal options. The HPCMP now has exercised the Year Three option, based on the performance of the software and the flexibility of Altair Engineering in adapting to the needs of the organization’s constantly changing environment.

“We focus on making the most secure, reliable, and scalable software in the industry,” said Dr. Bill Nitzberg, PBS GridWorks Chief Technical Officer at Altair, “and we’re very pleased that the Department of Defense continues to trust PBS Professional to manage some of the most sophisticated machines in the world.”

Initiated in 1992, the HPCMP’s mission is to deliver world-class commercial, high-end, high-performance computational capability to the Defense Department’s 4,000+ person science, technology, testing and evaluation communities.

A single job-management system

“The foundation of our contract with Altair was the desire to have a single job-management system for our entire user community,” said DoD HPCMP Centers Manager Brad Comes. “Our community uses about 20 different HPC systems. Some users employ eight systems and others just two or three. We wanted to have a common management system independent of the system they ran on, so our contract required software to run on all our systems as they scale, mature and change technologically.”

HPCMP buys three or four large high-performance computing systems every year to upgrade its capabilities, and the latest version of PBS Professional is installed on the new computer systems as they are deployed. HPCMP Centers Senior Analyst Bill Fabian said the centers have received a good endorsement of PBS Professional from system vendors, who appreciate Altair’s adapting its product line to integrate with their hardware.

“Altair has been able to adapt as the environment changes,” noted Fabian. “Altair’s capability to put changes in place has enabled a more rapid transition toward a single baseline. We’re happy with Altair’s flexibility, adaptability and responsiveness through changes in functionality of its software and integration with our capabilities.”

The role of PBS Professional is to optimize the amount of development data and testing that can be carried out on available resources within a given timeframe. “Our users have to make many runs of these programs with different criteria and assumptions,” Fabian explained, “and that’s a lot of computing. PBS commands are embedded within user-defined scripts, improving our overall productivity. Personnel no longer have to maintain scripts supporting multiple computing systems; they just need to support one layer for the queuing system. This capability has reduced our software sustainment costs because we only need to sustain a single job scheduling and queuing system.”

Supporting next-generation technologies

The military’s research and development scientists use high-performance computing, supported by PBS Professional, for a variety of advanced projects, such as developing materials for the next generation of aircraft, designing propulsion systems, developing more effective nozzles for diesel fuel-injection engines, and producing armor for vehicles in the field. They also take on projects with a very large scope, such as creating next-generation capabilities for predicting climate, weather and ocean patterns.

Testing and evaluation experts use the HPC systems to run virtual tests before conducting actual testing of missiles and aircraft. “Instead of conducting ten tests, the testing community can do computational work up front to reduce the scenarios required for actual testing to perhaps two,” said Comes, just as automotive designers use HPC simulations to reduce the number of actual crash tests they need to perform with vehicles.

“Our full intent,” Comes affirmed, “is to provide stability for our user community for 10 years with this common management system.”

About PBS GridWorks
PBS GridWorks® is a suite of on-demand grid computing technologies that allows enterprises to maximize ROI on computing infrastructure assets. PBS GridWorks is the most widely implemented software environment for grid-, cloud-, cluster- and on-demand computing worldwide. The suite’s flagship product, PBS Professional®, provides a flexible, on-demand computing environment that allows enterprises to easily share diverse (heterogeneous) computing resources across geographic boundaries. Leveraging a revolutionary “pay-for-use” unit-based business model, PBS GridWorks delivers increased value and flexibility over conventional software licensing models. For more information, please visit www.pbsgridworks.com.

About Altair
Altair Engineering, Inc. empowers client innovation and decision-making through technology that optimizes the analysis, management and visualization of business and engineering information. Privately held with more than 1,300 employees, Altair has offices throughout North America, South America, Europe and Asia/Pacific. With a 20-year-plus track record for product design and development, engineering software, advanced computing technologies, and enterprise analytics, Altair consistently delivers a competitive advantage to customers in a broad range of industries. To learn more, please visit www.altair.com.

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