Named "Cheyenne", the 5.34-petaflop system is capable of more than triple the amount of scientific computing performed by the previous NCAR supercomputer, Yellowstone. It also is three times more energy efficient.
Scientists across the country will use Cheyenne to study phenomena ranging from wildfires and seismic activity to gusts that generate power at wind farms. Their findings will lay the groundwork for better protecting society from natural disasters, lead to more detailed projections of seasonal and longer-term weather and climate variability and change, and improve weather and water forecasts that are needed by economic sectors from agriculture and energy to transportation and tourism.
"Cheyenne will help us advance the knowledge needed for saving lives, protecting property, and enabling U.S. businesses to better compete in the global marketplace", stated Antonio J. Busalacchi, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. "This system is turbocharging our science."
UCAR manages NCAR on behalf of the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Cheyenne ranks as the 20th fastest supercomputer in the world, and the fastest in the Mountain West. It is funded by NSF as well as by the state of Wyoming through an appropriation to the University of Wyoming.
Cheyenne is housed in the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC), one of the nation's premier supercomputing facilities for research. Since the NWSC opened in 2012, more than 2200 scientists from more than 300 universities and federal labs have used its resources.
"Through our work at the NWSC, we have a better understanding of such important processes as surface and subsurface hydrology, physics of flow in reservoir rock, and weather modification and precipitation stimulation", stated William Gern, vice president of research and economic development at the University of Wyoming. "Importantly, we are also introducing Wyomings school-age students to the significance and power of computing."
The NWSC is located in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and the name of the new system was chosen to honour the support the centre has received from the people of that city. The name also commemorates the upcoming 150th anniversary of the city, which was founded in 1867 and named for the American Indian Cheyenne Nation.
Cheyenne was built by Silicon Graphics International, or SGI - now part of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, with DataDirect Networks (DDN) providing centralized file system and data storage components. Cheyenne is capable of 5.34 quadrillion calculations per second (5.34 petaflops, or floating point operations per second).
The new system has a peak computation rate of more than 3 billion calculations per second for every watt of energy consumed. That is three times more energy efficient than the Yellowstone supercomputer, which is also highly efficient.
The data storage system for Cheyenne provides an initial capacity of 20 petabytes, expandable to 40 petabytes with the addition of extra drives. The new DDN system also transfers data at the rate of 220 gigabytes per second, which is more than twice as fast as the previous file system's rate of 90 gigabytes per second.
Cheyenne is the latest in a long and successful history of supercomputers supported by the NSF and NCAR to advance the atmospheric and related sciences.
"We're excited to provide the research community with more supercomputing power", stated Anke Kamrath, interim director of NCAR's Computational and Information Systems Laboratory, which oversees operations at the NWSC. "Scientists have access to increasingly large amounts of data about our planet. The enhanced capabilities of the NWSC will enable them to tackle problems that used to be out of reach and obtain results at far greater speeds than ever."
High-performance computers such as Cheyenne allow researchers to run increasingly detailed models that simulate complex events and predict how they might unfold in the future. With more supercomputing power, scientists can capture additional processes, run their models at a higher resolution, and conduct an ensemble of modeling runs that provide a fuller picture of the same time period.
"Providing next-generation supercomputing is vital to better understanding the Earth system that affects us all", stated NCAR Director James W. Hurrell. "We're delighted that this powerful resource is now available to the nation's scientists, and we're looking forward to new discoveries in climate, weather, space weather, renewable energy, and other critical areas of research."
Some of the initial projects on Cheyenne include: