Climate change research gets petascale supercomputer

1.5-petaflop IBM Yellowstone system runs 72,288 Intel Xeon cores

By , Computerworld |  Hardware, supercomputers

Scientists studying Earth system processes, including climate change, are now working with one of the largest supercomputers on the planet.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has begun using a 1.5 petaflop IBM system, called Yellowstone that is among the top 20 supercomputers in the world, at least until the global rankings are updated next month.

Arctic sea ice extent; Sept. 16, 2012, to the average minimum extent over the past 30 years (in yellow). Source: NASA

For NCAR researchers it is an enormous leap in compute capability -- a roughly 30 times improvement over its existing, 77 teraflop supercomputer. Yellowstone is a 1,500 teraflops system capable of 1.5 quadrillion calculations per second.

The NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center in Cheyenne, where this system is housed, says with Yellowstone it now has "the world's most powerful supercomputer dedicated to geosciences."

Along with climate change, this supercomputer will be used on a number of geoscience research issues, including the study of severe weather, oceanography, air quality, geomagnetic storms, earthquakes and tsunamis, wildfires, subsurface water and energy resources.

The supercomputer gives researchers new capabilities. They can run more experiments with increased complexity and at a higher resolution, according to interviews with researchers.

What this means is that scientists will be able to use the supercomputer to model the regional impacts of climate change. A model that is 100 km (62 miles) is considered coarse because the grid covers a large distance. But this new system may be able to reduce resolution to as much as 10 km (6.2 miles), giving scientists the ability to examine climate impacts in greater detail.

People "want to know what it (climate change) is going to do to precipitation in Spain or in Kansas," said Rich Loft, the director of technology development at the center.

Loft said they plan to give 11 research projects first crack at the machine "to try to do some breakthrough science straight away and try to shake the machine."

"We want to see what happens when users beat on it instead of just doing acceptance testing," said Loft.

Yellowstone is running in a new $70 million data center. The value of the supercomputer contract was put at $25 to $35 million. It has 100 racks, with 72,288 compute cores from Intel Sandy Bridge processors.


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
Join us:
Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Tumblr

LinkedIn

Google+

Answers - Powered by ITworld

Join us:
Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Tumblr

LinkedIn

Google+

Ask a Question