NCAR Advances Weather Research Capabilities With IBM Supercomputing Technology

New center in Wyoming will serve as hub for research into climate change, severe weather events and other geosciences

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BOULDER, Colo. & ARMONK, N.Y. - 08 Nov 2011: The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) today announced that IBM (NYSE: IBM) will install critical components of a petascale supercomputing system at the new NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC). The company was selected following a competitive open procurement process.

The IBM components consist of a massive central resource for file and data storage, a high performance computational cluster, and a resource for visualizing the data.

The new system, named Yellowstone, runs on an IBM iDataPlex and is expected to be delivered to the NWSC early next year. It will be the new facility's inaugural system. Once installed, the system will go through a testing period before being made fully available for scientific research in the summer of 2012.

Yellowstone is expected to deliver 1.6 petaflops performance, or nearly 30 times the capacity of the system currently in use at NCAR's Mesa Laboratory in Boulder, known as bluefire. Petaflops refers to a machine's ability to perform one quadrillion calculations, called floating point operations (FLOPS), per second.

Scientists will use these advanced computing resources to understand complex processes in the atmosphere and throughout the Earth system, and to accelerate research into climate change, severe weather, geomagnetic storms, carbon sequestration, aviation safety, wildfires, and other critical geoscience topics.

"Yellowstone will provide needed computing resources to greatly improve our understanding of Earth and produce significant benefits to society," says Anke Kamrath, director of operations and services for NCAR's Computational and Information Systems Laboratory (CISL). "We are very pleased to have such a high-performance system inaugurate the new supercomputing center."

"The vision for Yellowstone parallels the principles that have guided the design of the NWSC," says NCAR director Roger Wakimoto. "In both instances, we have taken an approach that maximizes the science we can do and the benefit of that science to society."

The NWSC is the result of a partnership between NCAR; the University of Wyoming; the State of Wyoming; Cheyenne LEADS; the Wyoming Business Council; Cheyenne Light, Fuel and Power; and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. NCAR is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

The facility, located in the North Range Business Park in Cheyenne, Wyoming, was designed with sustainability and flexibility in mind so it can be easily adapted to future technologies and changing requirements in scientific computing. Construction and commissioning was completed last month.

"We join our partners at NCAR and in Cheyenne in great anticipation as the supercomputer project nears completion," says University of Wyoming president Tom Buchanan. "Our faculty are poised to take full advantage of all that the center will bring to our educational and research endeavors in Earth system sciences; atmospheric, hydrological and computational sciences; mathematics; and engineering. The outcomes will enhance science and technology throughout Wyoming and the nation."

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