New Supercomputer to Track Climate Change

IBM has announced that the University of Colorado, in cooperation with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), has acquired a Blue Gene supercomputer to simulate the ocean, predict the weather and analyze other complex climate phenomena that may affect climate change and cause ripple effects in the global economy.

Now that intergovernmental panels have charged the scientific community with the colossal task of examining the origin behind the accelerating pace of climate change -- whether it be the Earth's organic rhythms, the fingerprint of mankind or both -- scientists are increasingly turning to the most cutting-edge technology.

Scientists at NCAR will use Blue Gene to research and model global climate change, weather prediction, wildfires and geoturbulence, among other major areas of interest, according to IBM.

"Climate change research is one policy-relevant field driving a need for more powerful computers to process complicated models of the Earth system," says NCAR director Tim Killeen. "Improving weather forecasts, predicting toxic pollution flows, and space weather are other areas where faster, more efficient supercomputers like Blue Gene are essential for U.S. scientists to remain in the forefront of Earth science research."

IBM's Blue Gene systems are presently the world's fastest supercomputers, achieving a peak performance of 5.7 teraflops (TF) per single rack system. Each rack occupies one square meter and energy consumption is reduced from previous IBM systems.

BlueGene/L was introduced in October of 2004 and displayed Earth Simulator for the top spot on the Top 500 list of supercomputers. Big Blue recently surpassed the 100-teraflop mark when it developed the world's most powerful supercomputer for the United States National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

For perspective, CRAY 1, the original supercomputer, maxed out at 133 megaflops. A megaflop is equivalent to one million instructions per second; a teraflop is equivalent to a trillion operations per second.

Due to its comparatively low energy consumption and compact dimensions, IBM has begun targeting commercial disciplines with a computing on demand program powered by Blue Gene technology. The program leases out heavy computing power without passing on the high costs required for actual ownership.

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