Tuesday, September 1, 2009

NASA expands high-end computing system for climate simulation

PR Newswire: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., made available to scientists in August the first unit of an expanded high-end computing system that will serve as the centerpiece of a new climate simulation capability. The larger computer, part of NASA's High-End Computing Program, will be hosting the agency's modeling contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other national and international climate initiatives.

….Discover will be hosting climate simulations for the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report by the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City and Goddard's Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO). Stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will enable installation of another 4,128 Nehalem processors this fall, bringing Discover to 15,160 processors.

"We are the first high-end computing site in the United States to install Nehalem processors dedicated to climate research," said Phil Webster, chief of the Computational and Information Sciences and Technology Office (CISTO) at Goddard. "This new computing system represents a dramatic step forward in performance for climate simulations."

In preliminary testing of Discover's Nehalem processors, NASA climate simulations performed up to twice as fast per processor compared to other nationally recognized high-end computing systems. Moreover, the new computational capabilities allow NASA climate scientists to run high-resolution simulations that reproduce atmospheric features not previously seen in their models.

"Nehalem architecture is especially well-suited to climate studies," said Dan Duffy, CISTO lead architect. "Speed is an inherent advantage for solving complex problems, but climate models need large memory and fast access. We configured our Nehalem system to have 3 gigabytes of memory per processor, among the highest available today, and memory access is three to four times faster than Discover's previous-generation processors."…

Intel's Nehalem architecture, rendered by Appaloosa, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License.

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