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Cray, IBM to boost NOAA's super powers

Nine month upgrade to deliver five PETAFLOPS of grunt

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has launched the next phase of an upgrade process which it says will increase the power of its supercomputing systems tenfold.

The upgrade, to be carried out by IBM and Cray, is due for delivery by October, and when it's completed the administration's two hunks of iron will each be vaulted into the petaflop class, at 2.5 petaflops each.

The aim of the extra capacity is to increase both the resolution and range of forecasts, as well as to help in climate modelling and prediction.

In the first stage of the upgrade, the two machines will have their capacity tripled this month to 0.776 petaflops each. This will take the Global Forecast System (GFS) from 27 km to 13 km resolution for ten-day forecasts, while 11-16 day forecast resolution will be improved from 55 km to 33 km.

The Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) will get better vertical resolution, with 64 levels instead of its current 42, eight-day horizontal resolution of 27 km (currently 55 km), and 16-day resolution of 33 km (currently 70 km).

The US$44.5 million contract with IBM will be delivered via Cray, acting as a subcontractor to IBM. The NOAA's statement is here. ®

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