by Byron Connolly

BoM to rollout $77M supercomputer and storage

Jul 21, 2015

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) will spend $77 million on a Cray supercomputer and storage system it claims will deliver more accurate weather forecasts and warnings across the country.

The federal government allocated funding for the machine – which will operate for five years from mid-2016 – in last year’s budget. Since then, BoM has boosted the links between its two data centres from 80Gbit/s to 200Gbit/s to prepare for the installation of the supercomputer.

The Cray XC40 supercomputer will allow weather researchers and scientists to run nearly 8 times the number of daily forecasts than with the current system with a 5 times improvement in global model resolution, Cray said. BoM has in the past run weather models on earlier generation Cray X-MP and Cray Y-MP machines.

The latest machine includes an Aries system interconnect; Dragonfly network topology that frees applications from locality constraints; DataWarp applications I/O flash SSD accelerator technology; and an integrated Linux OS environment. It also supports Intel Xeon, Intel Xeon Phi processors, and NVIDIA Tesla GPU accelerators.

Under the contract, BoM will also roll out a Cray Sonexion 2000 storage system, which will provide 12 petabytes of high performance capacity.

Federal minister for environment, Greg Hunt, said the supercomputer will enable BoM to issue forecasts and warnings more often and with greater certainty than ever. This will provide the community and emergency services with unprecedented information, particularly prior to and during severe and extreme weather.

“Every summer, we see how vital Bureau services are in warning of weather associated with bushfires, thunderstorms, tropical cyclones, flooding, rain, and dangerous winds. Our nation is always going to be vulnerable to these events and the Bureau gives us the information we need to plan and act,” he said.

Parliamentary secretary to the minister, Bob Baldwin, added that BoM’s services are vital to Australia’s economic livelihood, including for the construction, resources, agriculture and marine industries and those who keep our international trade routes open.

“Our nation’s defence forces depend on a wide range of the Bureau’s products, ranging from specialist forecasts for pilots to ocean forecasts for naval operations.”

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