UH Will Use Supercomputer To Investigate Weather

October 27, 2000


Honolulu, HAWAII — The University of Hawaii (UH) introduced an IBM supercomputer code-named “Blue Hawaii” that will explore the inner workings of active hurricanes, helping University researchers develop a greater understanding of the forces driving these destructive storms. The IBM SP system – the first supercomputer ever installed at the University of Hawaii – is the result of an initiative by the Maui High Performance Computing Center (MHPCC) in collaboration with IBM. This initiative has culminated in an innovative partnership between the university, MHPCC and IBM.

“We’re delighted to have IBM and MHPCC as partners,” said University President Kenneth P. Mortimer. “This new supercomputer adds immeasurably to the technological capacity of our engineering and science programs and will propel us to a leadership position in weather research and prediction.”

Donated by IBM to the university, Blue Hawaii is the technological heir to IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer that defeated chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. Blue Hawaii will power a wide spectrum of University of Hawaii research efforts, such as:

– Hurricane research. Wind velocity data acquired from weather balloons and aircraft-borne labs will be analyzed to develop a greater understanding of the forces that drive hurricanes. This will enhance meteorologists’ ability to predict the storms.

– Climate modeling. Scientists will investigate the interaction between the oceans and the atmosphere believed to cause long-term climate variations. The research is expected to lead to a more accurate method for predicting changes in the world’s climate, which will benefit numerous industrial sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation.

– Weather forecasting. Meteorological data will be processed through state-of-the-art computer models to produce weather forecasts for each of Hawaii’s counties.

In addition, scientists will rely on the supercomputer for a number of vital research projects in the areas of physics and chemistry. Educational programs in the University’s Department of Information and Computer Sciences will also be developed to train graduate students in computational science, which involves using high-performance computers for simulation in scientific research projects.

“This supercomputer strengthens our reputation as a location with a burgeoning high technology industry,” Hawaii Governor Benjamin Cayetano said. “It is an opportunity for our students and educators to work with a powerful research tool. This donation by IBM boosts this Administration’s own support of the university’s technology-related programs.”

The synergy between UH, MHPCC, and IBM will provide the resources needed to establish UH as a leader in research computing. MHPCC, an expert in production-level computing on the SP supercomputer, is acting as an advisor to UH on a broad range of technical topics and will install and prepare the supercomputer for UH. In addition, MHPCC and IBM will assist UH researchers in using the new research tool.

Located in the Department of Information and Computer Sciences at the University’s Pacific Ocean Science and Technology Building, Blue Hawaii is powered by 32 IBM POWER2 microprocessors, 16 gigabytes of memory and 493 gigabytes of IBM disk storage. The machine substantially augments the supercomputing power that’s based in the state of Hawaii, already home to MHPCC, one of the world’s most prestigious supercomputer facilities.

Together, Blue Hawaii and MHPCC form a powerful technology foundation for the burgeoning scientific research initiatives located in Hawaii. In the past five years, government research grants awarded to Hawaii scientists have increased by 34 percent to $103 million, according to the UH office of research services.

“Scientists at the University of Hawaii are conducting exciting research across a number of important disciplines,” said IBM vice president Peter Ungaro. “IBM is proud to work with UH and MHPCC in providing the university with the industry’s most popular supercomputer, which will help researchers achieve their important goals more quickly and with better results.” Most Popular Supercomputer

The Blue Hawaii system joins a long roster of IBM SP supercomputers around the world. According to the TOP500 Supercomputer List, IBM SPs now account for 144 of the world’s 500 most powerful high performance computers – more than any other machine. The list is published twice a year by supercomputing experts Jack Dongarra from the University of Tennessee and Erich Strohmaier and Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim (Germany).

IBM SP supercomputers are used to solve the most complex scientific and business problems. With the IBM SP, scientists can model the effects of the forces exerted by galaxies; corporations can perform complex calculations on massive amounts of data in order to support business decisions; petroleum exploration companies can rapidly process seismic data to determine where they should drill; and company executives seeking to meet Internet demand can enable complex Web-based transactions.

The University of Hawaii is the state’s 10-campus system of public higher education. The 17,000-student Manoa campus is a Carnegie I research university of international standing that offers an extensive array of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The university’s research program last year drew $179 million in extramural funding and is widely recognized for its strengths in tropical medicine, evolutionary biology, astronomy, oceanography, volcanology, geology and geophysics, tropical agriculture, electrical engineering and Asian and Pacific studies. Visit UH at http://www.hawaii.edu .

MHPCC is ranked among the Top 100 most powerful supercomputer facilities in the world. MHPCC provides DoD, government, private industry, and academic users with access to leading edge, high performance technology. MHPCC is a center of the University of New Mexico established through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate. MHPCC is a Distributed Center of the DoD High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP), a SuperNode of the National Science Foundation’s National Computational Science Alliance, and a member of Hawaii’s growing science and technology community.


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