One of the world’s most powerful supercomputers will support real-time translation of data into 3D video images for the Gotcha radar system being developed by the US Air Force Research Laboratory.

The Desch, a custom-built SGI Altix ICE 8200 supercomputer by Silicon Graphics will aid in the translation of synthetic aperture radar data from Gotcha into high-resolution 3D video images.

AFRL’s sensors directorate director Dave Jerome said the goal was to provide an extremely high-fidelity, all-weather intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability that can observe activity over an entire city.

The Gotcha radar system currently under development will be able to look at a city section and convert real-time radar data into a 400MP image every second over a circle of about 5km.

The supercomputer, currently ranked number 308 out of the 500 fastest computers in the world, has 2,048 Intel Nehalem processors, 3Tb of random access memory, 87 terabytes of fast storage and 16Gbps data communication between processors.

Gotcha is part of AFRL’s portfolio of research efforts to provide enhanced ISR capabilities to future joint warfighters.

The $2.2m Desch system is paired with a smaller SGI Altix 450 system for the radar project and funded by the US Defense Department’s high-performance computing modernisation programme.