Weather service syncs up new supercomputers

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's planned Global Earth Observation System of Systems got a new member earlier this month when the National Weather Service synchronized a trio of IBM eServer clustered supercomputers.

The Red, White and Blue trio run high-resolution models of hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and winter storms, tripling NWS' capability from 450 billion floating-point operations per second to 1.3 TFLOPS, NWS director David L. Johnson said.

NOAA acquired the supercomputing power under a $180 million, nine-year contract with IBM Corp. White, the backup system, runs at a NASA facility in Fairmont, W.Va.; Red and Blue at an IBM facility in Gaithersburg, Md.

Altogether, White and Blue have 1,408 1.7-GHz Power4 processors linked by a proprietary IBM interconnect fabric, said Kevin Cooley, director of central operations and CIO at NWS' Centers for Environmental Prediction in Camp Springs, Md.

A dedicated, dual OC-3 WAN connects the two sites at 155 Mbps, and NWS soon will 'bump it up to Gigabit Ethernet,' Cooley said.

Under a long-term partnership with IBM, NWS is upgrading its high-end hardware every 18 to 24 months, Cooley said.

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