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October 8, 2010

ORNL Climate System’s Big Reveal

Tiffany Trader

Last week, Jim Rogers, the director of operations at ORNL’s National Center for Computational Sciences, disclosed the name of the new Cray XT6 machine that will be number crunching in support of climate research. The appropriate moniker? Gaea, or Mother Earth. The beautiful mural artwork covering the front seven cabinets was also revealed, depicting sun-capped, snow-covered mountains.

Rogers gave the following statement by way of Frank Munger’s Atomic City Underground blog.

“The name of the machine is Gaea, Mother Earth, from Greek mythology. Gaea was the Protogenos (primeval divinity) of earth, one of the primal elements who first emerged at the dawn of creation, along with air, sea and sky. This name was selected from among a large list of contributions from the staff that were building the machine. The name is reflective of a primary mission of the machine, the assessment of climate variability and change on the Earth Systems.”

Prior to this latest development, it was announced that the machine had passed its five acceptance tests, putting Gaea ahead of schedule for its October 1, 2010, release date. Several users have already been given limited access.

The new Cray XT6 supercomputer represents a five-fold increase in computational capability over NOAA’s current best machine, Rogers said, and there are more ugprades planned as part of the lab’s $215 million agreement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Gaea currently has a peak capability of 260 teraflops, but with those planned upgrades will reach the petascale level. The system is located near Jaguar, another Cray supercomputer, currently rated the world’s fastest.

Full story at Atomic City Underground

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