High Performance Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) Computer System on the ISS (Spaceborne Computer) - 12.06.17

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Spaceborne Computer intends to run a year-long experiment of high performance commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) computer system on the International Space Station (ISS). During high radiation events, verify if the systems can still operate correctly by lowering their power, and therefore, speed. This research helps scientists identify ways of using software to protect ISS computers without expensive, time-consuming or bulky protective shielding.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Eng Lim Goh, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: Spaceborne Computer

Principal Investigator(s)
Eng Lim Goh, Ph.D., Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Milpitas, CA, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
David H. Petersen, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Chippewa Falls, WI, United States
Mark R. Fernadez, Ph.D., Hewlett Packard, Greer, SC, United States
John J. Kichury, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Morris Plains, NJ, United States
Robert J. Behringer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Chippewa Falls, WI, United States
Michael D. Scott, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Chippewa Falls, WI, United States
Calandra J. Szulgit, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Chippewa Falls, WI, United States

Developer(s)
Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Milpitas, CA, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
Technology Demonstration Office (TDO)

Research Benefits
Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
April 2017 - February 2018; -

Expeditions Assigned
51/52,53/54,55/56

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • Computer and data intensive applications are run on the Spaceborne Computer systems.
  • The power consumption is monitored and power usage is dynamically tuned during these runs.
  • The effects of radiation on the systems when running performance applications are determined concurrently with detecting/analyzing/adapting to data, quickpath interconnectTM (QPI) internal and FDR external errors.

Description
The research objectives of the Spaceborne Computer include a year-long experiment of operating high performance commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) computer systems on the ISS with its changing radiation climate. During high radiation events, the electrical power consumption and, therefore, the operating speeds of the computer systems are lowered in an attempt to determine if such systems can still operate correctly. Additionally, this is a long duration experiment, studying the practicality of running and managing COTS high performance computer systems in orbit from several months to one year. In summary, the objectives are:  1) run compute and data intensive applications in a changing radiation climate, 2) monitor power consumption and dynamically tune the power consumed, and 3) determine effects of solar radiation on the systems while running. In order to achieve these objectives, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) proposes a total of four identical high performance COTS computer systems. Two of the systems are installed aboard the ISS in a side-by-side EXPRESS locker within an ISS EXPRESS Rack. These two systems with the required networking are integrated at the HPE facility and turned over to the ISS Cargo Mission Contract (CMC) as required.

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Applications

Space Applications
Radiation-resistant computers improve the reliability of computational resources in space. Radiation is likely to have a number of unanticipated effects on complex computer systems. This experiment helps identify critical failure points in electronic systems, as well as potential software ‘patches’ that can prevent them.

Earth Applications
Radiation events (solar flares) can also pose risks to computing resources on Earth. Computing devices are increasingly used in an expanding range of outdoor applications such as cellular towers and traffic monitoring systems. This research helps identify dynamic software solutions that minimize radiation risk to any unprotected computing resource.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols

In order to achieve these objectives, HPE proposes a total of four identical high performance COTS computer systems. Two of the systems are installed aboard the ISS in a side-by-side payload developer designed locker in an ISS EXPRESS Rack locker location. These two systems with the required networking are integrated at the HPE facility and turned over to the ISS Cargo Mission Contract (CMC) as required. The other two systems are earth-based and act as the control group for the entire experiment. These identical and duplicate systems are housed within, operated, and monitored by HPE’s Engineering Department. Not only do two systems provide redundancy, but also, one of each pair remains in a maximum and steady power/performance state for the duration of the experiment, while the other’s performance is dynamically changed by raising and lowering the electrical power settings.
 
The systems have the following proposed names: Spaceborne Computer #1 (SBC-1) and Spaceborne Computer #2 (SBC-2); Earth-based Computer #1 (EBC-1) and Earth-based Computer #2 (EBC-2). Data networking is required to monitor the running applications and their performance and to dynamically control the electrical power of the systems. HPE proposes the use of the Ku Band Internet Protocol (IP) services (also known as Ku Forward services). HPE anticipates using the approved Telescience Resource Kit (TReK) to monitor and control the two high performance COTS computer systems on the ISS.  The systems are expected to generate about 5.4 MB of uncompressed ASCII files per day, and this is verified during testing according to the “Software Development and Testing” schedule. These files are stored onboard the systems on internal solid state disks. It is desirable to download these files daily for safekeeping and analysis.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
Hewlett Packard Enterprise

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Imagery

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Spaceborne Computer, isometric view.

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Spaceborne Computer installed in Express rack, inverters not shown.

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Spaceborne Computer, front view.

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Spaceborne Computer, top isometric view.

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Spaceborne Computer, left side isometric view.

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