HPE awarded $35+M to build supercomputer using its end-to-end HPC technologies for the NCAR

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) announced it was awarded a $35+ million contract to build a new supercomputer using its end-to-end high performance computing (HPC) technologies for the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

The new system will be installed later this year at the National Center of Atmospheric Research -Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) in Cheyenne, Wyoming and put into use in 2022.

It is a significant upgrade to NCAR’s existing system, Cheyenne, running on HPE’s world-leading HPC solutions, which include compute, storage, networking and software and delivering nearly 3.5X faster speed.

Latest system design will help NCAR process compute and image-intensive data to create digital models of various occurrences, from wildfires and solar storms to hurricanes and droughts, with greater accuracy.

“This new system, powered by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, 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, Computational and Information Systems Laboratory at the National Center of Atmospheric Research.

“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.”

Transforming research in geosciences with next-generation supercomputing

The system will be powered by HPE Cray EX supercomputer, which is a purposefully engineered HPC architecture to enable large, next-generation supercomputing, including exascale systems, and features the latest compute and dedicated AI performance.

NCAR will use the system to tackle research in a wide range of earth’s phenomenal events, including determining how to make some predictions up to a decade in advance. Example research includes:

  • Improving predictions of seasonal water supply, drought risk and flooding through detailed modeling and forecasting tools to inform water management experts, public utilities and farmers to help manage water resources.
  • Managing wildfire risk by simulating complex representations of physical processes in a given region, which can help forecasts in wooded areas that are becoming increasingly prone to severe wildfires such as in U.S. states California and Colorado or in countries like Argentina, Australia and Indonesia. Simulations will factor in data from local winds and air density, soil moisture, and vegetation patterns such as types of grass and leaves.
  • Foreseeing hazards and impacts of climate change from extreme weather conditions such as thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Better understanding patterns and processes involved helps narrow in radius of these forthcoming natural events.
  • Understanding the dangers of solar storms using detailed, three-dimensional simulations of the sun’s turbulent plasma flows and magnetic fields to enable predictions of potential solar impact that can disrupt the earth’s atmosphere and trigger space weather events that threaten communications systems and power grids.

“We are inspired by leading R&D centers, such as the National Center of Atmospheric Research (NCAR), in their research efforts of applying high-performance computing to understanding earth systems, including severe weather events and wildfires, that lead to informed decisions in earth’s keeping people safe and preserving ecosystems,” said Bill Mannel, vice president and general manager, HPC, at HPE.

“We are honored to have been selected by NCAR to build its next-generation supercomputer that will tackle complex computational research for a range of geosciences while also making it easier for researchers to store and make that data accessible to help communities make smarter decisions.”

Inside NCAR’s new supercomputer

HPE will integrate the following end-to-end high-performance computing technologies with its HPE Cray EX supercomputer to enable a significantly advanced system with a theoretical peak performance of 19.87 petaflops:

  • Expanded storage to support and share complex workloads in modeling, simulation and AI using the Cray ClusterStor E1000 storage system from HPE
  • Purpose-built HPC networking using HPE Slingshot to address demands for higher speed and congestion control for data-intensive workloads
  • Fully integrated software suite to optimize HPC and AI applications using the HPE Cray Programming Environment
  • Powerful compute to improve modeling and simulation using 2nd and 3rd Gen AMD EPYC processors
  • Targeted AI capabilities to support data and image-intensive workloads using NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core GPUs and NVIDIA AI and HPC software which provide comprehensive SDKs that contain AI frameworks, compilers, libraries, models and tools for compute acceleration

NCAR’s new system is funded by the National Science Foundation, an independent agency of the United States government that supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering.

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