BOULDER—The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) announced that it has selected its next supercomputer for advancing the Earth system sciences, following a competitive open procurement process. The new machine will help scientists conduct research needed to better understand a range of phenomena that affect society, from the behavior of major wildfires to eruptions of solar storms that can threaten GPS and other sensitive technologies.
The innovative system will be built by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and installed this year at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It will become operational in early 2022 and will replace the existing system, known as Cheyenne.
NCAR is holding a statewide contest for Wyoming schoolchildren to propose a name for the new system.
The HPE-Cray EX supercomputer will be a 19.87-petaflops system, meaning it will have the theoretical ability to perform 19.87 quadrillion calculations per second. That is almost 3.5 times the speed of scientific computing performed by the Cheyenne supercomputer, and the equivalent of every man, woman, and child on the planet solving one equation every second for a month. Once operational, the HPE-powered system is expected to rank among the top 25 or so fastest supercomputers in the world.
One of the most innovative features of the new system is its use of accelerated computing with NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core graphics processing units (GPUs). The supercomputer will get 20 percent of its sustained computing capability from GPUs, with the remainder coming from traditional central processing units (CPUs).
“This new system is a major step forward in supercomputing power, providing the scientific community with the most cutting-edge technology to better understand the Earth system,” said Anke Kamrath, director of NCAR’s Computational and Information Systems Laboratory. “The resulting research will lead to new insights into potential threats ranging from severe weather and solar storms to climate change, helping to advance the knowledge needed for improved predictions that will strengthen society’s resilience to potential disasters.”
Funding for the system, which will cost $35-$40 million, comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NWSC is funded by NSF and the state of Wyoming through an appropriation to the University of Wyoming.