NCAR supercomputer is water-cooled first

The National Centre for Atmospheric Research has installed an IBM supercomputer that will advance research into severe weather and climate change. The supercomputer - a Power 575 Hydro-Cluster named Bluefire - has a peak speed of more than 76 teraflops (76 trillion floating-point operations per second).

The National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has installed an IBM supercomputer that will advance research into severe weather and climate change. The supercomputer - a Power 575 Hydro-Cluster named Bluefire - has a peak speed of more than 76 teraflops (76 trillion floating-point operations per second).

When fully operational, Bluefire is expected to rank among the 25 most powerful supercomputers in the world and will more than triple NCAR's sustained computing capacity. The platform relies on a water-based cooling system that is 33 per cent more energy efficient than traditional air-cooled systems. Heat is removed from the electronics by water-chilled copper plates mounted in direct contact with each POWER6 microprocessor chip. As a result of this water-cooled system and POWER6 efficiencies, Bluefire is three times more energy efficient per rack than its predecessor, IBM claims.

Scientists at NCAR and across the country will use the system to accelerate research into climate change, including future patterns of precipitation and drought around the world, changes to agriculture and growing seasons, and the complex influence of global warming on hurricanes. Researchers also will use it to improve weather forecasting models.

Researchers will rely on Bluefire to generate the climate simulations necessary for the next report on global warming by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which conducts detailed assessments under the auspices of the United Nations. The IPCC was a recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Bluefire houses the POWER6 microprocessor, which has a clock speed of 4.7Gh. The system consists of 4064 processors, 12Tb of memory, and 150Tb of FAStT DS4800 disk storage.

Further information: www.cisl.ucar.edu/computers/bluefire, www.ibm.com.

Image: the Bluefire supercomputer relies on a unique, water-based cooling system that is 33 per cent more energy efficient than traditional air-cooled systems.

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