NTNU and Norwegian Meteorological Institute buy NOK35M supercomputer

30 Jun 2011 | Network Updates | Update from NTNU
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The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and Silicon Graphics International Corp (SGI) today signed a contract for a new supercomputer to be installed at NTNU by the end of 2011.

The new machine will be jointly owned by NTNU and the Norwegian Meteorological Institute (met.no), and will be used for research at NTNU and for mumerical weather prediction by met.no. The contract value is 35 MNOK. The new SGI system will deliver more than 10 times the capacity of the university's current high performance computer (HPC), which is called "Njord", after the Norwegian god who is the protector of seafarers and fishermen and who sends favourable winds and calm seas.

The new system

The new system will include the new generation Xeon Intel processors, and can perform 275 teraflops. This is almost twelve times the capacity of Njord. Further technical details will be released next week.

Cooperation between met.no and NTNU

NTNU and met.no have worked together for more than 20 years on investments in and operations of HPC systems for research and numerical weather prediction. In 1988 met.no started using the Cray X‐MP at NTH (now NTNU) for operational forecasts, and met.no has continued to use the HPC systems at NTNU ever since. The two institutions have decided to name the new system "Vilje," which according to Nordic mythology is what gave humans the ability to reason and to move.

NTNU's HPC goals

As Norway's primary institution for educating the country's engineers and scientists, it is important for NTNU to have a modern system for High Performance Computing. The university's research and educational efforts are designed to serve the needs of society, in particular to maintain Norwegian industrial interests. HPC is also vital to all of the university's Centers of Excellence, which are

  • Centre for Biology of Memory (CBM)
  • Centre for Quantifiable Quality of Service (Q2S)
  • Centre for Ships and Ocean Structures (CeSOS)

Researchers at these centers use HPC for a range of different tasks, such as modelling signaling in the brain, stress‐testing crypto algorithms, and modelling flow in or around pipelines. Researchers at these Centers of Excellence will benefit greatly from the more than 10‐fold increase in computing capability, which will be critical to enabling them to stay competitive at an international level.

This next generation of HPC should be able to simulate atomistic volumes of a size that can be reproduced in laboratories such as NTNU Nanolab. Phenomena detected in the lab can be simulated using the  HPC system and vice versa, which will lay the foundation for important scientific breakthroughs.

Met.no's computing goals

The new HPC system from SGI will allow met.no to use fine scale operational atmospheric and oceanographic models with the aim of improving weather forecasting for Norway and the adjacent seas. met.no will be able to run operational atmospheric models with 2.5 km resolution or better. The new machine will also allow the institute to increase the usage of satellite observations in its models.

The SGI system will be essential in the establishment of a ground‐breaking production chain for numerical weather prediction jointly operated by met.no and the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI), which will be operational from 2014.

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