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IBM Selected To Build World's Most Powerful Supercomputer For Climate Research

"Blue Sky" System at National Center for Atmospheric Research Underscores IBM's Leadership on TOP500 Supercomputer List

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ARMONK, NY - 09 Nov 2001: The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has selected IBM to provide the world's most powerful supercomputer for predicting climate changes that impact agricultural output, heating oil prices and global warming. The announcement came as IBM captured the number one position on the independent TOP500 list of the world's fastest supercomputers.

Code-named "Blue Sky," the system will improve NCAR's climate modeling capabilities by an order of magnitude when fully complete in September 2002. Blue Sky will be powered by IBM's SP supercomputer and IBM eServer p690 systems, and is designed to achieve a peak speed of seven trillion calculations per second with 31.5 trillion bytes of IBM SSA disk storage.

"Supercomputers play a uniquely powerful role in helping scientists identify important climate trends," said Surjit Chana, vice president, IBM Server Group. "The National Center for Atmospheric Research is enabling researchers to understand the climate changes that impact our lives."

As the United States' primary computing system for climate studies, NCAR's Blue Sky will accelerate research in global and regional climate change, droughts, short- and long-range weather prediction and warnings, wildland fires, turbulence, atmospheric chemistry, space weather, and other critical areas. This research is particularly important in understanding the forces that impact the length of growing seasons for agricultural crops, the migration of crop belts over time, and the severity of upcoming winter seasons.

"The addition of Blue Sky to NCAR's computing center is the single biggest increment in raw computing power in NCAR history," said Timothy Killeen, NCAR director. "It will provide U.S. scientists with speed, efficiency, and data storage space they need to stay at the forefront of climate, weather, and many other essential areas of research."

The National Science Foundation, NCAR's primary sponsor, purchased the new system for use by researchers across the nation.

The IBM machine will be assembled in two phases -- the first, beginning this year, will include IBM SP supercomputer technology targeted to more than double NCAR's processing capacity, operating under the code-name "Black Forest," to approximately two trillion calculations per second. In the second phase, scheduled for next fall, Blue Sky will be added, consisting of IBM eServer p690 UNIX servers that are expected to bring the machine's peak speed to seven trillion calculations per second.

TOP500 Leadership
The NCAR announcement highlights IBM's leadership of The TOP500 List, published today by researchers at the University of Tennessee and the University of Mannheim in Germany. The list, which ranks the 500 most powerful supercomputers in the world, illustrates in dramatic terms IBM's influence in the high performance computing space:

Continuing a powerful trend, 261 of the systems on the list are devoted to business computing, compared with the 236 business machines that were on the list published in June 2000.

The "TOP500 Supercomputing Sites" list is compiled and published by supercomputing experts Jack Dongarra from the University of Tennessee and Erich Strohmaier and Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim (Germany). The entire list can be viewed at

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