The World’s Most Powerful Climate Change Supercomputer Powers Up
For all the political discord over climate change, one thing everyone can probably agree on is that when you’re throwing computational resources at modeling weather, the more the merrier.
Think of the new computer that just came online at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center in Cheyenne, Wyoming as a kind of dream come true from a meteorological standpoint, then, because it represents a mammoth increase in raw crunch-prowess, dedicated to studying everything from hurricanes and tornadoes to geomagnetic storms, tsunamis, wildfires, air pollution and the location of water beneath the earth’s surface.
Call it “Yellowstone,” because that’s what the federally funded National Center for Atmospheric Research does. It’s a supercomputer, and not just your average massively parallel monster, but a 1.5 petaflop (that’s 1,500 teraflops) IBM-designed behemoth — it can run an astonishing 1.5 quadrillion calculations per second — that as of June 2012 ranks among the top 20 most powerful computers in the world.
Only “top 20″? 1.5 petaflops is nothing to sneeze at. While the fastest supercomputer in the world today, IBM’s “Sequoia” in Livermore, San Francisco, can handle over 16 petaflops, just four years ago the world’s fastest computer (also an IBM machine, dubbed “Roadrunner”) was just celebrating breaking the record for 1-petaflop sustained performance.
According to NCAR, Yellowstone is divided into three primary sections: a blistering-fast performance cluster powered by a whopping 72,288 Intel Sandy Bridge EP processor cores, a massive 144.6 terabyte storage farm and a system for visualizing all of its data.