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HP, BAE Systems Build Advanced Grid

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HP has teamed with BAE Systems and three institutions to build an advanced global computing Grid for collaborative simulation and visualization in aerospace and defense design.

The collaboration will be based on open Grid standards like the Globus Toolkit and the Open Grid Services Architecture, which combines Grid technology with Web services. As part of the project, HP and BAE say they will develop improved security measures for sharing Grid-enabled applications and data.

“Aerospace is on the leading edge of organizations that collaborate one day and compete the next,” says Sara Murphy, HP’s marketing manager for Grid computing. “This is a wonderful opportunity to understand the core issues of collaboration and virtual organizations. … It’s a good proving ground for Grid’s commercial possibilities.”

HP and BAE will team with the Institute of High Performance Computing in Singapore, Cardiff University, and the University of Wales, Swansea, on the computational electromagnetics project.

As the electronic systems used in the aerospace and defense sectors become increasingly elaborate, the process of designing, visualizing and simulating the operation of these systems becomes critical, HP and BAE say. This is particularly true for computational electromagnetics, or CEM, which poses some of the most complex and compute-intensive engineering problems.

CEM is critical for ensuring that the radar cross-section of complex platforms is understood, that internal electrical systems are compatible, and that those systems can respond appropriately to external factors like lightning strikes or electromagnetic radiation.

Grid experts in HP Services and HP Labs are working with researchers in BAE’s Advanced Technology Center (ATC), the Welsh e-Science Center at Cardiff University and the University of Wales, Swansea, to Grid-enable the applications that ATC uses to create and test its most sophisticated designs, including future concepts such as the More Electric Aircraft and the All Electric Ship.

“We expect that Grid-enabling our complex modeling codes will allow us to improve the speed and efficiency of our design process,” says BAE chief scientist Terry Knibb. “It will enhance our capability to work with global partners on future generations of aerospace and defense systems.”

The project is funded by the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry as part of the UK e-Science Program.

The first phase of the project is expected to begin later this month. Using existing nodes at the Singapore institute and ATC – including two recently installed Itanium-based HP Integrity rx2600 servers – and advanced visualization and modeling resources from Cardiff University and the University of Wales, Swansea, the organizations will roll out a functioning, geographically-dispersed Grid that will be used to explore advanced techniques for industrial simulation and Grid security.

Later phases of the project will focus on the development of heightened security for Grid environments, including the exploration of measures to enable the secure remote execution of highly proprietary applications. By allowing external organizations that are members of a Grid to run an application and report back the computational data without providing access to the program’s underlying code, the security measures are expected to increase the protection of commercial organizations’ sensitive intellectual property while still allowing them to take advantage of Grid computing’s benefits.

“This project will significantly help to develop Grid technologies for industrial applications,” states Alex Hardisty, manager of the Welsh e-Science Center at Cardiff University. “The idea of an extended enterprise or virtual organization, in which organizations with specialized skills come together to solve complex computational problems, is a key element of the Grid computing vision.”

“We’re working to solve some of the security and information-sharing worries that to date have prevented commercial companies from trusting a Grid with running their most critical business applications,” says Martin Walker, Grids segment manager for HP Services.

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