The new system will deliver an increase in sustained performance by a factor of about five compared to ECMWF's current high-performance computing facility.
This will enable a range of advances:
The increased computing capability will also enable the Centre to continue investigative work towards the 5 km ensemble called for by its ten-year Strategy to 2025, and in the field of machine learning in numerical weather prediction.
The new supercomputer will increase ECMWF's computing power by a factor of around 5 and will support hundreds of researchers from over 30 countries across Europe in their work on medium and long-range weather forecasting and prediction. Notably, it will enable them to reliably predict the occurrence and intensity of extreme weather events significantly ahead of time, essential to respond to the climate and weather crisis facing us today.
"Weather forecasting is computationally intensive and demands the best in high performance computing power", stated Dr. Florence Rabier, Director General at ECMWF. "This is one of the main reasons we chose Atos. We trust in its ability to supply and integrate the best technologies available, but also in its proven expertise to deliver effective solutions to the weather forecasting community across Europe. Thanks to this investment, we will now be able to run higher resolution forecasts in under an hour, meaning better information will be shared with our Member States even faster to enable much improved weather forecasts as they combine this enhanced information with their own data and predictions. As governments and society continue to grapple with the impacts of increasingly severe weather, we are also proud to be relying on a supercomputer designed to maximise energy efficiency."
Once operational, the new supercomputer will allow ECMWF to run its flagship world-wide 15-day ensemble prediction at a higher resolution of around 10km, offering significant improvement in the ability to forecast severe weather events.
Sophie Proust, Atos Group CTO, stated: "We're really delighted to have been selected by ECMWF for this major contract. This is testament not only to our solid expertise and operational excellence needed to install, manage and run such a large system, but also to the best-of-breed technology which we are supplying, with our BullSequana XH2000 and our partners AMD, Mellanox and DDN. This new solution will optimize ECMWF's current workflow to enable it to deliver vastly improved numerical weather predictions. Most importantly though, this is a long- term collaboration, one in which we will work closely with ECMWF to explore new technologies in order to be prepared for next-generation applications."
Adrian Gregory, Group SEVP, CEO UK&I and Global Head of Atos Syntel, stated: "We believe that our BullSequana supercomputing technology, people and collaborative approach will reinforce the ECMWF's reputation as a world class research and operational centre and that this partnership will stand as a flagship model for industry-meteorological collaboration."
Günther Tschabuschnig, Convener of the ECMWF Technical Advisory Committee subgroup responsible for selecting the Centre's high-performance computing facility, emphasised the benefits of the deal with Atos for society.
"One cannot overestimate the importance of accurate weather prediction. This has never been truer than in our current age, as the effects of climate change are increasingly felt. Individuals and societies need ever greater amounts of information to ensure they are prepared", he stated.
"Atos brings an impressive track record of success in this field, and its background in delivering advanced supercomputing solutions to some of the world's best meteorological services will ensure we are placed on a firm footing for success."
Atos has successfully deployed BullSequana systems at many leading European supercomputing centres that either undertake production or research work into weather forecasting, earth systems and climate modelling including Meteo France, the German Climate Computing Centre, the Spanish AEMet, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and Plymouth Marine Laboratory in the UK. Atos is also a partner of the ECMWF and other national weather centres in the ESCAPE2 and ESIWACE2 European projects developing next generation weather models which contribute to informing the future of atmospheric sciences.
Based in Reading in the UK, ECMWF is an independent intergovernmental organisation supported by 34 Member and Co-operating States across Europe and holds the largest archive of numerical weather prediction data in the world.
The Atos system will be hosted in the new ECMWF data centre currently being developed by the Italian Government and the Regione Emilia Romagna in Bologna, Italy. It is expected to be fitted in 2020 and to become fully operational in 2021. Atos will work locally with E4 Computer Engineering to manage, run and maintain the system.
Bologna is also the venue of an ECMWF workshop on high-performance computing in meteorology in September 2020, for which registration and abstract submission is now open. For more information on this high-profile biennial event, you can visit the workshop page on the ECMWF website.