NOAA goes 'live' with new weather supercomputers
Hurricane model forecasting improvements will come immediately, thanks to the new 213 teraflop Linux-based systems
Computerworld - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Thursday switched on two new supercomputers that are expected to improve weather forecasting.
The "go live" switch over to the new systems was made today without any fanfare, just a box of donuts on hand to mark 18 months of preparation and testing. The new IBM systems are now responsible for producing forecast data that's relied on in the U.S. and around the world.
The agency had planned to go live next Tuesday, but strong storms now in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans prompted the decision to move the date up, said Ben Kyger, director of central operations at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction.
NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) runs the two identical, or clone systems, one in Reston, Va., and in Orlando, Fla. They can switch over in about six minutes.
The supercomputers are each 213 teraflop systems, running a Linux operating system on Intel processors. The U.S. is paying about $20 million a year to operate the leased systems.
"These are the systems that are the origin of all the weather forecast you see," said Kyger. The computing system is called the Weather and Climate Operational Supercomputing System or WCOSS.
The two previously used four-year-old IBM supercomputers, also identical, run IBM's AIX operating system and Power 6 chips, and are each capable of 74 teraflops. The upgrade will continue to improve weather forecasting over time.
It's been a complicated process to get to this point. The NWS has had to ensure that the software running on the new system is producing scientifically correct results. It had been running the old and new systems in parallel for months, and comparing the output.
This comparative testing involved examining output data to determine whether it is numerically reproducible out to five decimal places. There is also a statistical analysis of weather predictions on the new system against the actual weather conditions.
The process wasn't just an examination of numerical data. NWS scientists also studied the weather products and examined them for subtle differences. "There is a lot of human, highly experienced, subjective evaluation," said Kyger.
There are computational differences involved in switching to new chips and a new operating system. They are subtle, and appear in decimal places six through 12.
As you go further out in a forecast, the differences compound.
The changes may appear in the fifth day of an extended, five-day forecast as a difference of one degree.
The NWS has a new hurricane model, Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF), which is 15% more accurate in day five of a forecast both for forecast track and intensity. That model is now operational and running on the new systems. That's important, because U.S. is expecting a busy hurricane season.
- In exascale, Japan stands apart with firm delivery plan
- Here comes a supercomputing app store
- An HPC champion helps Trek Bicycle shift gears
- D-Wave pitches quantum co-acceleration to supercomputing set
- Why the U.S. may lose the race to exascale
- Top500 shows growing inequality in supercomputing power
- Supercomputing's big problem: What's after silicon?
- Cray brings Hadoop to supercomputing
- Intel rushes to exascale with redesigned Knights Landing chip
- China still has the fastest supercomputer in the world
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- 4 Customers who never have to refresh their PCs again This paper illustrates a common theme: the combination of desktop virtualization and thin client computing helps organizations deliver an up-to-date user experience more...
- Mobile Devices: The New Thin Clients Get essential guidance for understanding the role thin clients plus virtual desktops play in the enterprise today.
- Taking Windows Mobile on Any Device Taking Windows applications mobile has many advantages, but the process of identifying a solution is complex. Learn how to solve this complex problem...
- PaaS - Powering a New Era of Business IT Why PaaS has suddenly become relevant and irresistible to many organizations. Dive into the opportunities and considerations associated with using PaaS from an...
- Redefine Your IT Operations: Remote Office IT Has Never Been Simpler Join us to see why PC Pro named Dell PowerEdge VRTX the "2013 Server of the Year." PowerEdge VRTX may be just what...
- Four Myths of High-Productivity App Dev Debunked Debunk the main myths surrounding high-productivity application development and how both platforms have overcome them. All Hardware White Papers | Webcasts