Story image

Spaceborne computer set to teraFLOP its way across the Solar System

HPE recently posted an update about their super space computer on their website. 

This is due to the six-month anniversary of the launch of the SpaceX CRS-12 rocket, which carried this high performance commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) computer system into space. 

And March 14 will mark six months since the system was installed by ISS astronauts and powered on.

The Spaceborne computer is supposedly running like a dream and has even achieved one teraFLOP status, meaning that it can calculate over one trillion calculations per second.

The goal is to operate seamlessly in the harsh conditions of space for one year, which is roughly the amount of time it will take to travel to Mars.

A sophisticated onboard computing system capable of extended periods of uptime will be an essential component for any super-long space missions. 

The near-real-time communications astronauts maintain with Earth,  from the space station, or even the moon, is not possible from Mars. 

If a problem occurred, the latency in delivering a message to Earth and having a response arrive back to the spacecraft could be as much as 40 minutes.

Spaceborne project leader Mark Fernandez says, “That’s just too long when a mission could hang in the balance.

“Our collaboration with NASA to test the efficacy of the Spaceborne Computer in space is a critical step to ensuring the viability and success of a long-range mission before we go, we have to know.”

In the first six months, the system has passed both the multi-node High-Performance LINPACK (HPL) and High-Performance Conjugate Gradients (HPCG) benchmark tests, as well as NASA’s own benchmark. 

The only downtime thus far was a planned, two-hour shutdown while astronauts were replacing an electrical component on another system and a 16-hour unplanned shutdown that occurred in late January due to a smoke detector false alarm. 

As part of standard safety precautions, the electrical power to the computer’s rack had to be immediately cut off. 

That meant that it was not powered down in the recommended manner due to the possibility of this being an emergency.   

However, once NASA determined no emergency had occurred, its staff at the Huntsville Operations Support Center followed HPE’s power-on procedures and returned Spaceborne Computer to its previous state without any issues and no apparent harm. 

For each shutdown, the computer system powered back on just as it was designed to do.

So, the ISS keeps on hurtling through space, and the Spaceborne Computer continues to perform, having completed over 2,700 trips around the world.

Adobe & Software AG transform customer experience management
Adobe and Software AG have announced a partnership that will help businesses transform their customer experience management.
Zoom Phone beta announced for local customers
Zoom is bringing its full Phone solution to Australia in July, but has launched a beta for us to try now.
Interview: Understanding the difference between analytics and AI
"Artificial intelligence is defined as a computer making choices a human would normally make, however, that could mean a lot of things."
General staff don’t get tech jargon - expert says time to ditch it
There's a serious gap between IT pros and general staff, and this expert says it's on the people in IT to bridge it.
Flying high: How airline Scoot enhances the customer experience
Singapore Airlines’ low-cost arm Scoot has selected Dell Boomi’s platform help it better understand its customers – and its own business.
Schneider shares advice for solving edge computing challenges
Schneider Electric has shared the findings of a new whitepaper that delves into the issues of deploying IT at the edge.
DimData: Fear finally setting in amongst vulnerable orgs
New data ranking the ‘cybermaturity’ of organisations reveals the most commonly targeted sectors are also the most prepared to deal with the ever-evolving threat landscape.
Seven Aussie projects shortlisted in IDC's Smart Cities Awards
The nominated projects include three from Newcastle alone and span smart water metering, solar farms, virtualization and transport.