IBM Supercomputer to Assess Mankind's Impact on Earth's Climate

National Center for Atmospheric Research selects RS/6000SP

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Note to Broadcast Editors - 11 Aug 1999: . . The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) took delivery today of one of the world's most powerful supercomputers, an IBM RS/6000 SP system that will accelerate researchers' abilities to simulate global climate patterns and determine mankind's impact on them.

The new RS/6000 SP system, code-named "blackforest," is five times larger and twenty times more powerful than the system made famous during Deep Blue's historic 1997 victory over world chess champion Garry Kasparov. It will give researchers at NCAR facilities in Boulder the computing power they need to evaluate the effects of industrial pollutants, including greenhouse gases and other airborne chemicals, on Earth's climate. Blackforest will also help NCAR's scientific divisions and university affiliates conduct atmospheric research into critical areas such as droughts, ozone depletion, long-range weather prediction and global climate changes. Blackforest's computing cousin, another RS/6000 SP system, was installed last October at the National Weather Service's National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) in Suitland, Maryland, and will eventually run all of the nation's operational weather forecasting models.

"With the installation of the RS/6000 SP system, we can now offer computing capacity comparable to that of any environmental center in the world," said Al Kellie, director of NCAR's computing division. "The SP's computing power will open the door for even greater scientific progress in global climate simulation and atmospheric research. It will allow NCAR to enter into the terascale computing arena within the next year."

The Climate System Model is NCAR's flagship tool for studying the atmosphere. It can simulate global climate patterns of the past, present and future by tracking changes in temperature, moisture, circulation and cloud cover, along with atmospheric interactions with the ocean and other parts of Earth's system. The RS/6000 SP will provide NCAR with the high performance computing power it needs to support long-running simulations of Earth's climate system.

"IBM provides advanced deep computing solutions that help scientists and researchers solve problems on a global scale," said Rod Adkins, general manager, IBM RS/6000. "The RS/6000 SP has played a crucial role in breakthroughs in nuclear simulation, weather forecasting, drug design and geological research. The SP system being delivered today to NCAR marks the next generation of computational power capabilities that will help answer the most complex problems of our time."

The new RS/6000 SP system contains 160 dual processor nodes with 160 gigabytes of memory and 2.5 terabytes of disk space. It offers a peak speed of 204 gigaflops, more than doubling the peak capacity of NCAR's current computing center.

NCAR joins several other environmental research centers that have recently acquired similar IBM RS/6000 SP systems. They include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Centers for Environmental Prediction and the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.