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NSWC Crane implements High Performance Computing solution to further AI, ML, and DL for the Navy

By Sarah K. Miller, NSWC Crane Corporate Communications | Oct. 7, 2020

CRANE, Ind. – Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) implemented a High Performance Computing (HPC) solution to enable Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Deep Learning (DL) for the Navy.

The enabling hardware is called the Artificial Intelligence Ready Infrastructure (AIRI) and was recently integrated into NSWC Crane’s a Research, Development, Test, and Engineering Network (RDTE). The AIRI for RDTE solution features hardware and services that was made available on the recently established Navy High Performance Computing Catalog, which allows anyone within the Navy to replicate an AIRI to use on both open and secure the networks. 

John Strange, a Computer Scientist at NSWC Crane, was on the team that first procured the AIRI technology and integrated into NSWC Crane’s open environment in 2018. Industry confirms that AIRI installation was the first within the Department of Defense. Strange says the AIRI solution that is now available via the Navy High Performance Computing Catalog can have a broad impact.

“AIRI is a hardware configuration that was architected in industry with the sole purpose of enabling data architects and scientists with a tool that could be used to run critical training workloads at scale while significantly reducing compute times,” says Strange. “Previously, employees working in these technology fields were custom building machines for this workload. This new solution impacts data scientists and engineers performing Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning work by providing a standardized platform that can be used across the enterprise. Ultimately, there is potential to extend the use of AIRI beyond AI/ML/DL as well.”

HPC is the practice of aggregating computing power in a way that delivers much higher performance than one could get out of a typical desktop computer or workstation in order to solve big problems in science and engineering. Computation is constrained by power and speed. As defined in the National Defense Strategy, there is a growing need to implement key technologies like AI, ML, and DL to meet the needs of the DoD and ensure warfighters are able to fight and win future wars.

After implementing the industry HPC solution to the open environment, Strange says there was a growing need to provide the same HPC technology to support unique DOD secure computing  environments. They leveraged Naval Innovative Science and Engineering (NISE) funding to find a solution.

“This AIRI was installed and integrated into NSWC Crane Division's open RDTE network and made available to our data science community to leverage with their projects,” says Strange. “While this implementation met the needs for those with existing workload, there was not a solution for more secure work. In February of this year, I was asked to procure a lightweight version of the system to be placed on another RDTE network, as there have been special projects at Crane needing a separate and secure solution. We leveraged an existing contract to procure all of the required materials and services, as well as coordinate the integration of the new AIRI with NSWC Crane and our vendors. Now, anyone with an RDT&E seat can access these hardware platforms.”

After the solution was implemented on multiple open and secure environments, it was made available across the Navy on the Navy High Performance Computing Catalog, which is available via NASA SEWP.

Teresa Crevier, a Contracting Officer and Branch Manager at NSWC Crane, says the contracting solution can be significant to the Navy.

“The contracting solution is flexible, usable, fast and can be procured in a matter of days,” says Crevier. “It gives autonomous capability to use and there is no ceiling. It’s available for collaboration with other warfare centers. This has potential to be a big deal across the Navy.”

Strange says there are many benefits to implementing this technology capability more broadly.

“The Navy High Performance Computing Catalog was recently created so that other’s outside of Crane could take advantage of this hardware more easily,” says Strange. “Making it available on the Navy High Performance Computing Catalog allows for rapid procurement, standardization of hardware, ease of procurement, and allows for technical refreshes over 5-10 years. The solution provides robust capability to Crane’s key technology thrust areas, which impacts each mission area and a wide variety of customers across the DoD.”

About NSWC Crane

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.

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