US weather agency to boost supercomputers to 2.5 petaflops each

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) plans to upgrade the performance of its two supercomputers with a roughly tenfold increase of capacity by October 2015, the agency said Monday. With the upgrade, the agency is hoping for more accurate and timely weather forecasts.

The supercomputer upgrade comes courtesy of a $44.5 million contract with [company]IBM[/company], which is subcontracting with Seattle-based supercomputer-maker Cray Inc. to improve the systems. Of that $44.5 million, the NOAA said that $25 million “was provided through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 related to the consequences of Hurricane Sandy.”

The National Weather Service (part of NOAA) will reap the benefits this month when the two supercomputers triple their current total capacity from 0.776 petaflops to 1.552 petaflops as part of the first step of the overhaul. With the bump in power, the National Weather Service will be able to run an upgraded version of its Global Forecast System with better resolution and longer weather forecasts.

Global Forecast System

Global Forecast System

When the upgrade is finished, each supercomputer should be able to handle a capacity of 2.5 petaflops, which makes for a total capacity of 5 petaflops.

While that’s a sizable increase of capacity, the world’s fastest supercomputer, China’s Tianhe-2, can deliver 55 peak petaflops.

In November, IBM announced that it would build two new supercomputers based on IBM’s OpenPower technology for the U.S. Department of Energy. Those new supercomputers should be functional by 2017 and will supposedly deliver more than 100 peak petaflops.

An MLB team is apparently doing in-game graph analysis

A Major League Baseball team is reportedly the proud owner of a Cray Urika graph-processing appliance that helps the team make in-game decisions by analyzing lots and lots of data. It might be a first, but it’s where sports are headed.

Did webscale computing force Intel’s Cray buy?

Intel paid $140 million to buy the interconnect business of Cray, the original manufacturer of supercomputers. From here it looks like there’s little left of Cray moving forward, but the interesting bit about this deal is how it could define the next generation of servers.

Supercomputer vet Cray wants to turn big data into fast data

Looks like Oracle has some competition when it comes to selling big iron for big data. On Wednesday, Cray, the Seattle-based company best known for building some of the world’s fastest supercomputers, announced it’s getting into the big data game.

How the cloud is reshaping supercomputers

In the past decade supercomputers were dressed-up versions of Intel’s x86 machines, but increasingly supercomputers are borrowing innovations (and silicon in the form of ARM-based chips or DSPs) from the mobile and big data realms to add speed without guzzling too much power.

Today in Cloud

Perhaps hoping to put the Oracle-instigated Itanium fuss behind it, Intel yesterday revamped their high performance Xeon chip line. Big names such as Cray also came out to back the 29 chips in the line, one of which features in the Cray CX1000 supercomputer. With so many chips on offer Intel clearly hopes to dominate the entire server market, from the world of the CX1000 down to the humble back office email server. AMD, Oracle, IBM and others are unlikely to let Intel walk all over their markets, of course… and the large number of chips could conceivably work against Intel if they and their resellers fail to tell compelling and differentiated stories about the different products in the range.

Today in Cleantech

Like clockwork, the Top500 list of supercomputers is out today and Jaguar, the Department of Energy’s climate change data cruncher (and then some) from Cray, is still number one. For those keeping an eye on energy efficiency, there’s also some encouraging news. Power efficiency among the top 10 supercomputers rose to 300 Mflops per watt from 280 Mflops per watt a year ago. Also, it’s been revealed that machines with IBM ‘s PowerXCell 8i and Cell processors under the hood are likelier to be green. Good to know!

As Devices Converge, Chip Vendors Girding For a Fight

The computing world is undergoing a significant shift as consumers and businesses access and store more of their information in web-based applications, get their software delivered as a service or even download music and movies to their PCs on demand. This trend is enabled by better access to wireless networks, be they Wi-Fi hotspots at a local Starbucks or cellular networks that work in the middle of a corn field.
Some people refer to this shift as everything moving to the cloud, but whatever you call it, the trend of digitizing music, presentations and even books has made information portable and ephemeral enough that it’s rocking the world of chipmakers, device vendors and even server makers, whose products ground the cloud. In this article, I’ll talk about the effects of the cloud on the consumer and corporate client devices. Read More about As Devices Converge, Chip Vendors Girding For a Fight