Supercomputer dedicated in honor of Mississippi soldier who shielded fellow Marine from grenade blast

Published 6:26 am Wednesday, December 13, 2023

The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) unveiled and dedicated its newest supercomputer, an HPE EX 4000, in honor of Medal of Honor recipient and Mississippi native, Cpl. William “Kyle” Carpenter, in a ceremony held at the organization’s Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

ERDC is home to some of the world’s largest unclassified supercomputers, and this newest addition is no exception. The supercomputer has the ability to perform 9 quadrillion calculations per second and is fully equipped to enhance ERDC’s support of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) most demanding computational challenges.

“With 277,248 AMD compute cores and 563 terabytes of memory, this new supercomputer will significantly enhance our ability to support the DoD’s most demanding computational challenges,” said David A. Horner, director of ITL. “This acquisition marks a major accomplishment for our laboratory.”

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A machine that is powerful and impressive has been given an even more powerful name — Carpenter.

Named “Carpenter” in recognition of Cpl. William “Kyle” Carpenter, a native of Flowood, Mississippi, and the youngest living Medal of Honor recipient, the system was unveiled to the retired Marine and his family during a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony on Tuesday, December 12, 2023.

While serving in Afghanistan, Kyle and a fellow Marine were manning a rooftop security position when they were attacked by hand grenades. Without thinking, Kyle fearlessly moved toward the grenade and shielded his friend from the deadly blast. He survived the attack and saved his partner’s life.

“Kyle Carpenter, along with previous supercomputing system namesakes LCpl Roy Wheat and CPT Ed Freeman, exemplifies the very reason why our mission is so critical,” said Horner. “The opportunity to help protect those who are willing to give everything to keep others safe is not something to take lightly.”

Three years ago, ITL made the decision to honor Mississippi-native Medal of Honor recipients by naming high-performance computing systems after these American heroes. Kyle is the youngest and one of only eight living recipients to be awarded a Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan, which was presented by President Barack Obama at the White House in 2014.

“Corporal Carpenter — Kyle — I’ve never been more proud to stand before someone than I am today,” said Dr. David Pittman, ERDC director. “You and your fellow Marines, Soldiers, Airmen and Sailors are the reason we come to work every day.”

Kyle shares his story with others through public speaking events and in his national best-selling book, You are Worth It: Building a Life Worth Fighting For. On his podcast, The Kyle Carpenter Podcast, he interviews other inspirational people to encourage meaningful conversations on leadership, adversity and finding a joyful purpose in life.

“It is so humbling to be recognized by and named after such a powerful and purposeful creation, that will be used to make our nation and world better and safer,” said Carpenter.

Supercomputing helps reduce defense system costs by shortening the design cycle and reducing reliance on expensive and destructive live experiments and prototype demonstrations which provides a technological advantage for DoD projects.

“This supercomputer has over 9 petaFLOPS of compute capability,” said Mr. Bobby Hunter, chief of the Supercomputing Research Center. “To help put that into context, if we had Cpl. Carpenter and 9,999 scientists and engineers all doing a calculation per second on a calculator, it would take them 28,500 years to do what this computer can do in one second.”

ERDC’s first supercomputer arrived in 1990 and the DoD formed the High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP) two years later. Since then, ITL has fielded some of the largest and most powerful supercomputers in the world.

Cpl. Carpenter’s image is stretched across the entire front of the machine, making this one of the most striking and eye-catching supercomputers that has ever called ERDC home.

“That was one of the most impactful hours of my life,” said Carpenter. “I thought I was going to look out and see a blank computer with nothing on it, and then I looked through that window, and I saw myself. But really, I saw our military and our nation and so many that have given so much and ultimately a moment for all of us, but for those that never made it home as well.”

“With the addition of the Carpenter supercomputer, ERDC will continue to do its part to ensure DoD has what it needs to lead the world in supercomputing solutions,” said Pittman.

The HPCMP is a multiservice effort and national asset that provides a comprehensive modeling and simulation ecosystem. The HPCMP integrates the supercomputing capabilities and computational science expertise that allow DoD scientists and engineers to conduct a wide range of Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) activities and amplify their creativity, productivity and impact.

“Aiding our men and women in uniform and working to ensure all make it back home safely has always been a huge part of what we do here at ERDC, and this new HPCMP supercomputer will allow us continue to build on that legacy,” said Horner. “Thank you, Corporal Carpenter, for serving as a constant reminder of why our mission matters.”

“You are at the forefront of ERDC’s mission to Discover, Develop and Deliver innovative solutions to provide the advantage to our Warfighters around the world, to protect them while there, and to bring them home,” said Pittman.