U.S. Government Selects Massive IBM Supercomputer For The Nation's Weather Forecasts

Ultimately Four Times Faster Than Current Supercomputing Champ, IBM System Will Pioneer Flexible New Method Of Delivering Supercomputing Power

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ARMONK, NY - 31 May 2002: The U.S. government's weather forecasting service has selected a massive IBM supercomputer that when fully deployed will be about four times faster than the most powerful supercomputer in the world today, IBM announced. The agreement is expected to generate more than $200 million for IBM during the next nine years -- more than any single supercomputer contract in IBM history.

In delivering the system, IBM will for the first time offer a flexible new method of supplying supercomputing power. The entire machine will be located at IBM's e-business Hosting Center in Gaithersburg, Maryland, with processing power and storage capability delivered to the government via an ultra-fast network.

IBM defeated a number of U.S. and Japanese supercomputer vendors to win the landmark contract.

The government's National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) will rely on the IBM supercomputer to improve the accuracy of its weather forecasts, which form the basis of television and newspaper forecasts across the country. The forecasts are also used in aviation, agriculture, disaster response and a host of other important areas.

"Weather forecasts affect everything from our own personal safety to the health of the nation's economy," said Val Rahmani, general manager of IBM eServer pSeries. "The IBM supercomputer will dramatically increase NCEP's computational ability, helping the organization make its forecasts even more accurate."

IBM eServer p690 and FAStT500 Storage Server
The supercomputer will be delivered in stages, beginning this year. The first phase -- a cluster of 44 IBM eServer p690 servers supported by 42 terabytes of IBM TotalStorage FAStT500 Storage Server disk storage -- will have a peak speed of 7.3 teraflops. A teraflop is one trillion calculations per second.

IBM will expand the system to reach a peak speed well in excess of 100 teraflops by 2009. It would take one person with a calculator more than 80 million years to tabulate the number of calculations a 100 teraflop supercomputer can handle in a single second.

Supercomputers -- large machines that sometimes require more floorspace than a basketball court -- have traditionally been located at customer sites. IBM's flexible hosting service enables customers to reap the benefits of powerful supercomputers via a high speed connection, without having to provide the physical space to house the computer.

IBM Supercomputing Leadership
Today's announcement reinforces IBM's leadership in the high performance computing space. IBM has provided large weather/climate research supercomputers to the world's most prestigious meteorological organizations, including NCEP, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Naval Oceanographic Office, National Center for Atmospheric Research, German Meteorological Office, and Hungarian National Meteorological Service.

In the most recent TOP500 List of Supercomputers, published twice each year by supercomputing experts Jack Dongarra from the University of Tennessee and Erich Strohmaier and Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim (Germany), IBM systems accounted for 160 of the world's 500 most powerful high performance computers -- more than any other vendor [1].