The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand has purchased what will be the largest supercomputer in the southern hemisphere. The IBM Power 575 and its support infrastructure ran the lab $12.7million. NIWA hopes to lower insurance costs in New Zealand and improve early warning systems for severe weather. In July and August of last year alone, New Zealand residents were hit with $68 million in damage as a result of weather events.
The United Kingdom Met Office estimated the benefit to cost ratio of their similar supercomputer was nine times that of the total cost of ownership, based solely on its capability to improve flood forecast lead times,” said Niwa chief executive John Morgan.
Industries that are climate-sensitive – such as the energy sector, farming, horticulture and tourism – will benefit directly from Niwa’s ability to make more accurate and more specific forecasts. The new supercomputer will also allow Niwa to improve early warnings of the effects of severe events, such as flooding and storm surges,” said Mr Morgan.
The new P575 will be worlds faster than the current Cray T3E platform. Currently, hazards forecasting models that take 80 minutes on 40% of the T3E will require eight minutes on 4% of the new P575. They’re also planning on partially water cooling the new system using sea water from Evans Bay, adjacent to NIWA’s facility in Wellington.
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