New super-computer for polar research

Calculator will perform elaborate simulations

Sampling of an ice kernel on the sea ice. © AWI
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A new high-performance computer has now been awarded to the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research. The NEC SX-8R vector computer can perform over 35 billion arithmetic operations per second and will be used in the future for complex simulations in climate research and marine science.

"We need these high-performance computers to process the enormous amounts of data from climate research and to understand how Earth's climate machine works. In particular, we can also calculate future scenarios that help us make the right decisions, "explains Professor Jürgen Mlynek, President of the Helmholtz Association, who has provided the necessary funds from the company's large-scale equipment program.

After a Europe-wide invitation to tender, in addition to the suitability of the computer for simulation calculations with coupled earth system models and the energy efficiency was decisive, was in early 2007, the new computer system from NEC installed and accepted. Since then, the modelers in the Department of Climate Sciences of the Alfred Wegener Institute have been testing the computer and are now using it fully.

Scientists from various disciplines work closely together here to further explore climate models and current climate change and thus to better understand the earth's climate system. The field researchers bring important observations about their collected data, which significantly improve the model quality.

Higher resolution of climate models

"With the new supercomputer we can carry out significantly refined climate and earth system model calculations. In particular, due to the high main memory capacity of the system, a higher spatial resolution of the models is possible. The integration of biochemical and geochemical submodels and improved sea ice, land ice and ocean model components also plays an important role. These more comprehensive and accurate model calculations are a necessary prerequisite for a better understanding of climate change, "says Professor Wolfgang Hiller, head of the data center at the Alfred Wegener Institute. display

The NEC SX-8R vector computer in Bremerhaven consists of twelve SX-8R nodes, each equipped with eight processors. The SX-8R processor clocks at 2.2GHz, can perform over 35 billion operations per second, and achieves the highest data transfer speed between CPU and memory of all today at 70.4 gigabytes per second standard processors. The new NEC SX-8R supercomputer with its 12 knots achieves a total output of over 3.3 teraflops.

6.7 terabytes per second

The total memory capacity is 1.5 terabytes, and the aggregated data transfer rate between CPUs and storage unit is 6.7 terabytes per second. The combination of high computing power and memory bandwidth is particularly powerful in computer simulations of physical phenomena. Vector computers from NEC form the basis for many supercomputers worldwide. A prominent example is the Earth Simulator in Yokohama, Japan, which has spent over two years ranking the 500 fastest supercomputers in the world.

"The new SX-8R computer at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven is already the fifth SX-8 supercomputer in Europe that is used specifically for climate research, " says Makoto Tsukakoshi, Managing Director Yours, NEC High Performance Computing Europe GmbH.

(idw - Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, 01.06.2007 - DLO)