Sign up for our newsletter and get the latest HPC news and analysis.
Send me information from insideHPC:


ECMWF to Upgrade Cray XC Supercomputers for Weather Forecasting

ECMWF and Cray representatives in September 2014, celebrating the successful migration of the Centre's operational suites to its current Cray high-performance computing facility.

ECMWF and Cray representatives in September 2014, celebrating the successful migration of the Centre’s operational suites to its current Cray high-performance computing facility.

Today Cray announced a $36 million contract to upgrade and expand the Cray XC supercomputers and Cray Sonexion storage system at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF). When the project is completed, the enhanced systems will allow the world-class numerical weather prediction and research center to continue to drive improvements in its highly-complex models to provide more accurate weather forecasts.

“This upgrade will help us to improve the quality of the service we provide to our Member and Co-operating States,” said ECMWF Director of Research Erland Källén. “It will enable us to develop high-resolution ensemble forecasts that improve the prediction of severe weather events in the medium range, up to about two weeks ahead. It will also make it possible to introduce improved data assimilation methods, allowing us to use more of the available Earth system observations, and to produce more detailed and better-quality atmospheric composition forecasts as well as high-quality climate datasets (re-analyses).”

In June 2013, Cray announced it was awarded a contract to provide ECMWF with two Cray XC30 supercomputers and a Cray Sonexion storage system. Under the terms of this new contract, Cray will expand and upgrade the supercomputers at ECMWF to Cray XC40 systems, which will include next-generation Intel Xeon processors. ECMWF will also receive additional Cray Sonexion 2000 scale-out Lustre storage, and a 32-node Cray XC40-AC system with the next-generation of the Intel Xeon Phi processor code-named “Knights Landing”.

Located in Reading in the United Kingdom, ECMWF is focused on the development and operation of global models and data assimilation systems for the dynamics, thermodynamics and composition of the Earth’s fluid envelope and interacting parts of the Earth system. An independent, intergovernmental organization supported by 34 nations, the center specializes in global numerical weather prediction up to a few weeks ahead. It also provides longer-range forecasts for up to a year ahead and runs the EU-funded Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring and Climate Change Services.

We are very pleased that ECMWF has made the decision to upgrade its Cray systems, which will provide the organization’s researchers and scientists with even more powerful, computational tools for advancing global numerical weather prediction,” said Catalin Morosanu, Cray’s vice president of sales for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. “The ability to easily and cost effectively upgrade our systems is an important design element of Cray supercomputers. This allows our customers to have a lower total cost of ownership of their systems over time, and quickly be able to deploy the latest and most-advanced technologies. We are proud of our relationship with ECMWF and the amazing work they do, and we are excited our partnership will continue well into the future.”

Cray XC40 supercomputers are engineered to meet the performance challenges of today’s most demanding HPC users. Special features of the Cray XC40 supercomputer include: the industry-leading Aries system interconnect; a Dragonfly network topology that frees applications from locality constraints; optional flash SSD enabled DataWarp applications I/O accelerator technology; innovative cooling systems to lower customers’ total cost of ownership; the next-generation of the scalable, high performance and tightly integrated Cray Linux Environment that supports a wide range of applications; Cray’s HPC optimized programming environment for improved performance and programmability; and the ability to handle a wide variety of processor types, including Intel Xeon processors, Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors, and Nvidia Tesla GPU accelerators.

The Cray Sonexion 2000 scale-out storage solution combines Cray’s Lustre expertise with a tightly integrated, unique design that allows for maximum scalability and performance. Management and operations are simplified through an appliance design with all storage components including software, storage and infrastructure.

Consisting of products and multiple years of service, the contract to upgrade and expand the Cray systems at ECMWF is valued at more than $36 million. System deliveries are expected in 2016.

Sign up for our insideHPC Newsletter

Resource Links: