NOAA-ORNL Climate Research Collaboration Sets Lofty Goals for New Supercomputer

By Nicole Hemsoth

July 26, 2010

A year ago, NOAA and DOE signed an agreement calling for closer cooperation between NOAA and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The agreement tasked ORNL with “providing research collaboration and technical support for high performance computing and data systems that will deliver improved climate data and model experiments.” Jim Rogers, director of operations for the National Center for Computational Sciences at ORNL, discusses the agreement and the goals for the Climate Modeling and Research System (CMRS), the initial supercomputer chosen for the collaborative work.

HPCwire: What are the scientific goals for CMRS? What kind of modeling resolution are you targeting? Will this allow you to add more components to the ensemble models?

Rogers: The high-level goal for this project is to develop better models for predicting climate variability and change. ORNL’s role is to provide NOAA with both the HPC resources and the collaborative support needed to extend and improve these models.

On NOAA’s current systems, the typical resolution of the coupled climate model has been limited to a grid increment of 200 km for the atmosphere, and 100 km for the ocean model because of limitations in computational resources. However, on the new Cray XE6, we expect that NOAA scientists will quickly transition to a much higher resolution 50 km atmosphere and 25 km ocean model. And while I expect that this will be the initial workhorse, NOAA is already working on a 25 km atmosphere and 10 km ocean model with better physics.

There are several things in play as we move to these higher resolution models. The first is identifying core-count sweet spots for the existing model, the second is improving the scalability of the current code so that it can effectively use larger numbers of cores, and the third is introducing a new version of the atmosphere that includes a more complete treatment of the upper-level atmospheric physics and dynamics.

HPCwire: Who are NOAA’s research partners in this endeavor?

Rogers: This agreement specifically includes collaboration among scientists within NOAA and DOE/ORNL. Jim Hack, Director of the National Center for Computational Sciences, is working with Brian Gross and Venkatramani Balaji of NOAA/GFDL to identify and scope these collaborative efforts.

HPCwire: Why did NOAA decide to use ORNL as a host site for CMRS?

Rogers: ORNL plays a leadership role for climate change science and is a well-established HPC resource provider, with the current fastest computer system in the world. NOAA has been using a significant number of processor hours at ORNL on both the Cray XT4 and XT5 since 2008. This existing relationship provides a strong basis for the more dedicated support that they will receive with the CMRS. This arrangement allows NOAA to leverage our unique strengths as the host site for the equipment, as well as collaborate on the science side in partnering two strong climate science communities.

HPCwire: As part of its energy research mission, ORNL has been active in climate research for a long time, but the lab has really stepped up its climate work in recent years, including recruiting top research talent in this field. What’s driving this escalation?

Rogers: ORNL has definitely increased its focus on climate modeling and research. Day to day, I see growth in this area through the Oak Ridge Climate Change Science Institute. There is a lot of momentum in this area, a lot of attention from the public, and significant opportunities for fostering collaborative work in earth systems modeling.

HPCwire: Is there a “critical mass” effect from having all this climate research talent and multiple petascale supercomputers in one place?

Rogers: There is clearly an advantage to this situation.

HPCwire: Do you expect the petascale CMRS system to attract even more climate research talent to the NOAA site at ORNL?

Rogers: The priorities for use of the CMRS system will be up to NOAA management, but it’s easy to imagine how the huge increase in capability will provide NOAA with the flexibility to do new things and more fully engage other components of the NOAA climate change program. The opportunity to work on state-of-the-art hardware will always be a draw, especially on this Cray XE6, which provides some very attractive features that even big brother “Jaguar” cannot provide, including denser, faster nodes and the higher-speed interconnect.

HPCwire: NOAA is providing ORNL with $215 million over five years for supporting the climate research work. This is federal stimulus money. How much do you expect this big funding infusion to accelerate progress in climate research?

Rogers: Only the first $73 million is ARRA [American Recovery and Reinvestment Act] money. That money has been budgeted for the acquisition, installation, operation, and support of the CMRS. Other funding sources up to the $215 million will round out many of the collaborative science projects and activities. The impact of this stimulus funding is pretty clear, though. In Year 1, the new CMRS provides a 5x increase in computational capability over NOAA’s current largest system. In the second year, the capacity quadruples to more than 1.1 petaflops. This is a huge resource, delivered in step with the scientific community’s needs.

HPCwire: How will the increased computational power and research funding affect America’s standing in the global climate research community? Will the US be taking on a bigger share of the work for IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] or other collaborative projects?

Rogers: I certainly expect the CMRS systems to be used for IPCC AR5 [Fifth Assessment Report] work.

HPCwire: Is NOAA’s climate research work always collaborative, or do you sometimes compete with other large climate centers around the world?

Rogers: Climate science is by definition a highly collaborative enterprise. I imagine that this machine acquisition will put NOAA in a role to take on additional leadership roles in exploring questions about climate change.

HPCwire: This will bring the number of Cray petascale systems at ORNL to three. Why did you choose the Cray supercomputers for this work?

Rogers: This was the outcome of a competitive procurement that assessed a large number of factors, including technical solution and strategy, benchmarks, past performance, and total cost of ownership. Intense interest from the HPC vendors led to very good proposals. In the end, the Cray solution using the XE6 was the most competitive, demonstrating a very good fit for the high-resolution climate models, an aggressive installation and upgrade plan, and the greatest ability to deliver cycles to the NOAA climate community.

HPCwire: You’ll soon have the CMRS petascale system. What could you do with an exascale supercomputer?

Rogers: The climate modeling community has articulated plans to pursue higher-resolution models with much more realistic physics, with a goal of improving simulation fidelity. Exascale capabilities will be needed to achieve many of these challenging scientific goals. Of course, the modeling activities will need to be able to exploit a much more complex architecture to take advantage of an exascale computer, which will provide an equally challenging technical task for the climate community.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Fluid HPC: How Extreme-Scale Computing Should Respond to Meltdown and Spectre

February 15, 2018

The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities are proving difficult to fix, and initial experiments suggest security patches will cause significant performance penalties to HPC applications. Even as these patches are rolled o Read more…

By Pete Beckman

Intel Touts Silicon Spin Qubits for Quantum Computing

February 14, 2018

Debate around what makes a good qubit and how best to manufacture them is a sprawling topic. There are many insistent voices favoring one or another approach. Referencing a paper published today in Nature, Intel has offe Read more…

By John Russell

Brookhaven Ramps Up Computing for National Security Effort

February 14, 2018

Last week, Dan Coats, the director of Director of National Intelligence for the U.S., warned the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia was likely to meddle in the 2018 mid-term U.S. elections, much as it stands accused of doing in the 2016 Presidential election. Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Safeguard Your HPC Environment with the World’s Most Secure Industry Standard Servers

Today’s organizations operate in an environment with ever-evolving threats, and in order to protect themselves they must continuously bolster their security strategy. Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Intel® are addressing modern security challenges with the world’s most secure industry standard servers powered by the latest generation of Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors. Read more…

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended to make it easier, faster and cheaper to train and run machi Read more…

By Doug Black

Fluid HPC: How Extreme-Scale Computing Should Respond to Meltdown and Spectre

February 15, 2018

The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities are proving difficult to fix, and initial experiments suggest security patches will cause significant performance penal Read more…

By Pete Beckman

Brookhaven Ramps Up Computing for National Security Effort

February 14, 2018

Last week, Dan Coats, the director of Director of National Intelligence for the U.S., warned the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia was likely to meddle in the 2018 mid-term U.S. elections, much as it stands accused of doing in the 2016 Presidential election. Read more…

By John Russell

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended Read more…

By Doug Black

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The Food Industry’s Next Journey — from Mars to Exascale

February 12, 2018

Global food producer and one of the world's leading chocolate companies Mars Inc. has a unique perspective on the impact that exascale computing will have on the food industry. Read more…

By Scott Gibson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Singularity HPC Container Start-Up – Sylabs – Emerges from Stealth

February 8, 2018

The driving force behind Singularity, the popular HPC container technology, is bringing the open source platform to the enterprise with the launch of a new vent Read more…

By George Leopold

Dell EMC Debuts PowerEdge Servers with AMD EPYC Chips

February 6, 2018

AMD notched another EPYC processor win today with Dell EMC’s introduction of three PowerEdge servers (R6415, R7415, and R7425) based on the EPYC 7000-series p Read more…

By John Russell

‘Next Generation’ Universe Simulation Is Most Advanced Yet

February 5, 2018

The research group that gave us the most detailed time-lapse simulation of the universe’s evolution in 2014, spanning 13.8 billion years of cosmic evolution, is back in the spotlight with an even more advanced cosmological model that is providing new insights into how black holes influence the distribution of dark matter, how heavy elements are produced and distributed, and where magnetic fields originate. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Inventor Claims to Have Solved Floating Point Error Problem

January 17, 2018

"The decades-old floating point error problem has been solved," proclaims a press release from inventor Alan Jorgensen. The computer scientist has filed for and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Japan Unveils Quantum Neural Network

November 22, 2017

The U.S. and China are leading the race toward productive quantum computing, but it's early enough that ultimate leadership is still something of an open questi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Showcases Growing Portfolio of EPYC and Radeon-based Systems at SC17

November 13, 2017

AMD’s charge back into HPC and the datacenter is on full display at SC17. Having launched the EPYC processor line in June along with its MI25 GPU the focus he Read more…

By John Russell

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fast Forward: Five HPC Predictions for 2018

December 21, 2017

What’s on your list of high (and low) lights for 2017? Volta 100’s arrival on the heels of the P100? Appearance, albeit late in the year, of IBM’s Power9? Read more…

By John Russell

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Chip Flaws ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Loom Large

January 4, 2018

The HPC and wider tech community have been abuzz this week over the discovery of critical design flaws that impact virtually all contemporary microprocessors. T Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshops and other technical sessions will be inundated with requests for feedback. Read more…

By Andrew Jones

How Meltdown and Spectre Patches Will Affect HPC Workloads

January 10, 2018

There have been claims that the fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, named the KPTI (aka KAISER) patches, are going to affect applicatio Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

GlobalFoundries, Ayar Labs Team Up to Commercialize Optical I/O

December 4, 2017

GlobalFoundries (GF) and Ayar Labs, a startup focused on using light, instead of electricity, to transfer data between chips, today announced they've entered in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tensors Come of Age: Why the AI Revolution Will Help HPC

November 13, 2017

Thirty years ago, parallel computing was coming of age. A bitter battle began between stalwart vector computing supporters and advocates of various approaches to parallel computing. IBM skeptic Alan Karp, reacting to announcements of nCUBE’s 1024-microprocessor system and Thinking Machines’ 65,536-element array, made a public $100 wager that no one could get a parallel speedup of over 200 on real HPC workloads. Read more…

By John Gustafson & Lenore Mullin

Flipping the Flops and Reading the Top500 Tea Leaves

November 13, 2017

The 50th edition of the Top500 list, the biannual publication of the world’s fastest supercomputers based on public Linpack benchmarking results, was released Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

V100 Good but not Great on Select Deep Learning Aps, Says Xcelerit

November 27, 2017

Wringing optimum performance from hardware to accelerate deep learning applications is a challenge that often depends on the specific application in use. A benc Read more…

By John Russell

2017 Gordon Bell Prize Finalists Named

October 23, 2017

The three finalists for this year’s Gordon Bell Prize in High Performance Computing have been announced. They include two papers on projects run on China’s Read more…

By John Russell

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This