Thursday, September 29, 2016

U.S. Naval Academy Offers High Performance Computing Capability

The U.S. Naval Academy recently received a high-performance computer acquired through grants provided by the Office of Naval Research and Department of Defense High Performance Computing Modernization Program.

USNA is the nation’s first educational institution to provide HPC instruction and research capabilities in an undergraduate-only environment.

The Cray XC-30 computer, named “Grace” after computer science pioneer Rear Adm. Grace Hopper, will be used by multiple departments to support midshipmen and staff research as part of USNA’s Center for High Performance Computing. The HPC allows access for massive computations for simulations and research.

“I think one of the big things midshipmen take away from using the HPC is the size and scale of what’s possible when really using the machine for high-end computations," said Distinguished Visiting Professor Carl Albing, co-director of the Center for High Performance Computing. "There are problems that you want to simulate because you can’t have or don’t want real-life instances. Whether performing a simulation of orbiting planets in a galaxy or the effects of detonating a warhead without actually blowing one up, this computer is capable.”

The Center for High Performance Computing enables a variety of educational opportunities through its faculty members, including research projects, internship experiences, and initiatives that enhance the academy's education program in a variety of disciplines beyond computer science.

“HPC greatly expands on complication resources beyond what you can achieve on a reasonable desktop computing platform,” said Cmdr. Stuart Blair, associate chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department. “My most current project simulates air flow through a cascade of turbine blades, measuring the full pressure and velocity field. The on-going research aims to improve the efficiency of turbine engines.

"By using an HPC to simulate this, we can take measurements on thousands of points, adjust the geometry of turbine blades and run the simulation again," said Blair. "We achieve this without costly production.”

"Grace" is currently housed at the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies. The Center for High Performance Computing hopes that understanding the HPC’s architecture, performance and capabilities will help encourage faculty, staff and midshipmen to use the systems.

“We are trying to reach out to as many departments here at USNA as possible,” said computer science Assistant Professor Gavin Taylor, Center for High Performance Computing co-director. “We are educating professors and midshipmen on its capabilities and hardware and how to use this computer.”

For more information about "Grace" or USNA’s Center for High Performance Computing, visit:


  1. I've gone to the referenced URL. There is no information there about "Grace."

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