Potsdam Scientists to Tackle New Type of Weather Simulations with IBM iDataPlex

Institute hikes compute power 30x with new energy-efficient supercomputer

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ARMONK, NY and POTSDAM/STUTTGART, GERMANY - 22 Jan 2009: The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) is rolling out a new IBM (NYS: IBM) supercomputer that will increase its computing capacity more than 30-fold. Potsdam researchers plan to employ IBM’s high-performance iDataPlex servers to more precisely predict weather events that have so far proven to be incalculable – extreme, short-term  phenomena such as torrential rain or drought.

PIK’s new iDataPlex computer was put into operation in January and offers 30 teraflops of processing power (30 trillion calculations per second) – roughly equal to 1,000 home PCs.  The new computer would rank among the world’s 150 fastest machines, according to the current Top500 Supercomputer List (www.top500.org).

“One of the key reasons that iDataPlex stands apart from other high-performance computer platforms is its energy efficiency,” said Karsten Kramer, head of IT for PIK. “We estimate that our iDataPlex configuration will deliver approximately 230 megaflops of performance per watt. That should rank it among the top ten most energy-efficient x86 clusters operating today.”

PIK researchers will use the iDataPlex supercomputer to model weather events that arrive with little warning and last for comparatively short durations. Droughts, for example, call for new computer-based simulation methods since their durations – typically one or two months -- are too short-term for traditional weather modeling techniques that calculate developments over decades.

PIK’s new supercomputer runs IBM’s General Parallel File System (GPFS), a workhorse file system that powers many of the world’s largest supercomputer sites. PIK’s GPFS-equipped iDataPlex system offers 200 terabyte data memory – enough for the content of about ten million books – a bookshelf 100 kilometers long.

iDataPlex: Supercomputer Power in Energy-Saving Package

iDataPlex is an all-new IBM server that can be used to build stand-alone high-performance compute clusters or to more easily integrate supercomputer power into existing data centers. iDataPlex was specifically designed to streamline data center operations and shave power costs for companies that operate tens of thousands of servers.

Part of IBM’s “Big Green” initiative, iDataPlex maximizes performance per watt with innovative cooling techniques such as a rear-door heat exchanger. This liquid-cooled panel on the back of the unit can eliminate the need for computer-room air conditioners, allowing for room-temperature operation. A single iDataPlex 1U server packs five times the compute power of a typical server while consuming 40 percent less power.

For more information about the PIK, visit www.pik-potsdam.de.

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