UK Announces £1.2 Billion Weather and Climate Supercomputer

By Oliver Peckham

February 19, 2020

While the planet is heating up, so is the race for global leadership in weather and climate computing. In a bombshell announcement, the UK government revealed plans for a £1.2 billion ($1.56 billion) investment in weather and climate supercomputing, including a new system which, when completed, is expected to stand as the world’s most powerful system dedicated to weather and climate operations. 

Of the £1.2 billion investment, the government expects to spend £854 million ($1.11 billion) on the contract for the supercomputer itself. The new system, which will be managed by the UK’s Met Office, will replace its existing supercomputing capabilities (three Cray XC40 systems that will reach end-of-life in 2022) from 2022 to 2032. The Met Office anticipates that just the first phase of the new system will sextuple its computing capacity, followed by an additional threefold increase in the back half of that ten-year period. 

The system will serve a wide range of functions, from more accurate storm and rainfall prediction to climate change modeling. The UK government also highlighted potential uses in energy forecasting and air traffic planning, as well as ensuing improvements in the UK’s HPC and data technology capabilities.

“This investment will ultimately provide earlier more accurate warning of severe weather, the information needed to build a more resilient world in a changing climate and help support the transition to a low carbon economy across the UK, said Penny Endersby, chief executive of the Met Office, in the UK government’s announcement. “It will help the UK to continue to lead the field in weather and climate science and services, working collaboratively to ensure that the benefits of our work help government, the public and industry make better decisions to stay safe and thrive.

The UK announced the new supercomputer through Alok Sharma, its business and energy secretary – and president of COP26, the next major conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which will be held in Glasgow later this year. 

“Over the last 30 years, new technologies have meant more accurate weather forecasting, with storms being predicted up to 5 days in advance,” Sharma said. “Come rain or shine, our significant investment for a new supercomputer will further speed up weather predictions, helping people be more prepared for weather disruption from planning travel journeys to deploying flood defenses.”

The existing Isambard system. Image courtesy of GW4.

On the same day, the government announced £4.1 million in funding for Isambard 2, which will be hosted by the Met Office, supporting its weather and climate activities. Isambard 2 (an HPE-Cray system) is expected to be the largest Arm-based supercomputer in Europe, doubling the existing Cray ThunderX2-based machine, upping it to 21,504 cores across 336 nodes, and adding a Cray Fujitsu A64FX partition.

Cray’s Fujitsu A64FX board on display at SC19.

“It’s crucial for UK scientists to have access to the latest cutting-edge Arm technologies, as they’re one of the most likely paths to exascale computing and can help researchers solve global challenges,” said Simon McIntosh-Smith, principal investigator for the Isambard project and a professor of HPC at the University of Bristol. In a tweet, McIntosh-Smith elaborated that Isambard 2 would include “a small number of the very latest CPUs and GPUs from AMD, Intel and Nvidia to enable scientifically rigorous architectural comparisons, but [that] the main focus of Isambard is Arm-based CPUs.”

The announcements represent a recommitment to UK weather forecasting in an increasingly competitive global landscape. Last summer, the U.S. Global Forecast System received a major upgrade aimed at reestablishing U.S. forecasting leadership, and the Korean Institute of Atmospheric Prediction Systems announced a new forecasting model intended to eventually displace the Met Office’s Unified Model for use in South Korea.

Perhaps most appropriately, the UK announcement comes on the heels of an announcement by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). Just over a month ago, the ECMWF unveiled its plans to quintuple its supercomputing power through a four-year, $89-million contract with Atos. That new BullSequana XH2000 supercomputer, sourced from a European company and set to be housed in ECMWF’s new datacenter in Bologna, Italy, marks a shift in the winds for the traditionally UK-based, Cray-supplied ECMWF computing operations. 

With Brexit now the law of the land, the UK out of EuroHPC, the Unified Model being challenged and the ECMWF moving to emphasize its European roots, this new system sends a clear signal that the UK intends to remain a leader in weather and climate computing in a post-Brexit world. Interestingly, though, the UK might not be taking as literal an approach with its insourcing: the BBC reported that, in order to lower the carbon footprint of the system, the Met Office is considering siting the supercomputer in a renewable energy-rich neighbor like Iceland or Norway, breaking from the norm set by the preceding 14 Met Office systems.

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!

Supercomputers Take to the Solar Winds

June 5, 2020

The whims of the solar winds – charged particles flowing from the Sun’s atmosphere – can interfere with systems that are now crucial for modern life, such as satellites and GPS services – but these winds can be d Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPC in O&G: Deep Sea Drilling – What Happens Now   

June 4, 2020

At the beginning of March I attended the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. That seems a long time ago now. It’s a great event where oil and gas specialists join with compute veterans and the discussion tell Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

NCSA Wades into Post-Blue Waters Era with Delta Supercomputer

June 3, 2020

NSF has awarded the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) $10 million for its next supercomputer - named Delta – “which will kick-start NCSA’s next generation of supercomputers post-Blue Waters,” Read more…

By John Russell

Dell Integrates Bitfusion for vHPC, GPU ‘Pools’

June 3, 2020

Dell Technologies advanced its hardware virtualization strategy to AI workloads this week with the introduction of capabilities aimed at expanding access to GPU and HPC services via its EMC, VMware and recently acquired Read more…

By George Leopold

Supercomputers Streamline Prediction of Dangerous Arrhythmia

June 2, 2020

Heart arrhythmia can prove deadly, contributing to the hundreds of thousands of deaths from cardiac arrest in the U.S. every year. Unfortunately, many of those arrhythmia are induced as side effects from various medicati Read more…

By Staff report

AWS Solution Channel

Join AWS, Univa and Intel for This Informative Session!

Event Date: June 18, 2020

More enterprises than ever are turning to HPC cloud computing. Whether you’re just getting started, or more mature in your use of cloud, this HPC Cloud webinar is an excellent opportunity to gain valuable insights and knowledge to help accelerate your HPC cloud projects. Read more…

Indiana University to Deploy Jetstream 2 Cloud with AMD, Nvidia Technology

June 2, 2020

Indiana University has been awarded a $10 million NSF grant to build ‘Jetstream 2,’ a cloud computing system that will provide 8 aggregate petaflops of computing capability in support of data analysis and AI workload Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

NCSA Wades into Post-Blue Waters Era with Delta Supercomputer

June 3, 2020

NSF has awarded the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) $10 million for its next supercomputer - named Delta – “which will kick-start NCS Read more…

By John Russell

Indiana University to Deploy Jetstream 2 Cloud with AMD, Nvidia Technology

June 2, 2020

Indiana University has been awarded a $10 million NSF grant to build ‘Jetstream 2,’ a cloud computing system that will provide 8 aggregate petaflops of comp Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

By Doug Black

COVID-19 HPC Consortium Expands to Europe, Reports on Research Projects

May 28, 2020

The COVID-19 HPC Consortium, a public-private effort delivering free access to HPC processing for scientists pursuing coronavirus research – some utilizing AI Read more…

By Doug Black

$100B Plan Submitted for Massive Remake and Expansion of NSF

May 27, 2020

Legislation to reshape, expand - and rename - the National Science Foundation has been submitted in both the U.S. House and Senate. The proposal, which seems to Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Boosts Deep Learning Accuracy on Memristive Chips

May 27, 2020

IBM researchers have taken another step towards making in-memory computing based on phase change (PCM) memory devices a reality. Papers in Nature and Frontiers Read more…

By John Russell

Hats Over Hearts: Remembering Rich Brueckner

May 26, 2020

HPCwire and all of the Tabor Communications family are saddened by last week’s passing of Rich Brueckner. He was the ever-optimistic man in the Red Hat presiding over the InsideHPC media portfolio for the past decade and a constant presence at HPC’s most important events. Read more…

Nvidia Q1 Earnings Top Expectations, Datacenter Revenue Breaks $1B

May 22, 2020

Nvidia’s seemingly endless roll continued in the first quarter with the company announcing blockbuster earnings that exceeded Wall Street expectations. Nvidia Read more…

By Doug Black

Supercomputer Modeling Tests How COVID-19 Spreads in Grocery Stores

April 8, 2020

In the COVID-19 era, many people are treating simple activities like getting gas or groceries with caution as they try to heed social distancing mandates and protect their own health. Still, significant uncertainty surrounds the relative risk of different activities, and conflicting information is prevalent. A team of Finnish researchers set out to address some of these uncertainties by... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Turns Its Massive Crowdsourced Computer Network Against COVID-19

March 16, 2020

For gamers, fighting against a global crisis is usually pure fantasy – but now, it’s looking more like a reality. As supercomputers around the world spin up Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Global Supercomputing Is Mobilizing Against COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Tech has been taking some heavy losses from the coronavirus pandemic. Global supply chains have been disrupted, virtually every major tech conference taking place over the next few months has been canceled... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Simulations Reveal the Fate of the Neanderthals

May 25, 2020

For hundreds of thousands of years, neanderthals roamed the planet, eventually (almost 50,000 years ago) giving way to homo sapiens, which quickly became the do Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

Steve Scott Lays Out HPE-Cray Blended Product Roadmap

March 11, 2020

Last week, the day before the El Capitan processor disclosures were made at HPE's new headquarters in San Jose, Steve Scott (CTO for HPC & AI at HPE, and former Cray CTO) was on-hand at the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. He was there to discuss the HPE-Cray transition and blended roadmap, as well as his favorite topic, Cray's eighth-gen networking technology, Slingshot. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Honeywell’s Big Bet on Trapped Ion Quantum Computing

April 7, 2020

Honeywell doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of quantum computing pioneers, but a decade ago the high-tech conglomerate better known for its control systems waded deliberately into the then calmer quantum computing (QC) waters. Fast forward to March when Honeywell announced plans to introduce an ion trap-based quantum computer whose ‘performance’ would... Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

SC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

AMD
AMD
ASROCK RACK
ASROCK RACK
AWS
AWS
CEJN
CJEN
CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
IBM
IBM
MELLANOX
MELLANOX
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
SIX NINES IT
SIX NINES IT
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL
WEKAIO
WEKAIO

Contributors

Tech Conferences Are Being Canceled Due to Coronavirus

March 3, 2020

Several conferences scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, including Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC) and the Strata Data + AI conference, have Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Exascale Watch: El Capitan Will Use AMD CPUs & GPUs to Reach 2 Exaflops

March 4, 2020

HPE and its collaborators reported today that El Capitan, the forthcoming exascale supercomputer to be sited at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and serve Read more…

By John Russell

‘Billion Molecules Against COVID-19’ Challenge to Launch with Massive Supercomputing Support

April 22, 2020

Around the world, supercomputing centers have spun up and opened their doors for COVID-19 research in what may be the most unified supercomputing effort in hist Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Cray to Provide NOAA with Two AMD-Powered Supercomputers

February 24, 2020

The United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last week announced plans for a major refresh of its operational weather forecasting supercomputers, part of a 10-year, $505.2 million program, which will secure two HPE-Cray systems for NOAA’s National Weather Service to be fielded later this year and put into production in early 2022. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

15 Slides on Programming Aurora and Exascale Systems

May 7, 2020

Sometime in 2021, Aurora, the first planned U.S. exascale system, is scheduled to be fired up at Argonne National Laboratory. Cray (now HPE) and Intel are the k Read more…

By John Russell

Australian Researchers Break All-Time Internet Speed Record

May 26, 2020

If you’ve been stuck at home for the last few months, you’ve probably become more attuned to the quality (or lack thereof) of your internet connection. Even Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU: Up to 2.5X the HPC, 20X the AI

May 14, 2020

Nvidia's first Ampere-based graphics card, the A100 GPU, packs a whopping 54 billion transistors on 826mm2 of silicon, making it the world's largest seven-nanom Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This