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SGI Powers New SPICE System for Weather Forecasting at UK Met Office

metofficeToday, SGI announced that the UK Met Office has selected the three HPC vendors to provide high performance computing capabilities for its new Scientific Processing and Intensive Compute Environment (SPICE) system. SPICE will enable weather and climate researchers to dramatically reduce time required to analyze massive amounts of climate simulation data.

With the new SPICE system from SGI, we have seen a step-change in performance for our researchers and scientists doing post-processing of weather and climate data,” said Richard Bevan, Head of Operational Technology at the Met Office. “Tasks that used to take 1-2 days to complete are now done in a fraction of that time, allowing scientists to perform multiple runs in one day.”

The Met Office is a world leading weather forecasting and climate prediction organization that conducts research designed to protect lives and increase prosperity. The institution’s 500 scientists conduct research using data-intensive, high-resolution models to increase forecast accuracy and provide a deeper understanding of climate change. The Met Office required a powerful system for post-processing data and analysis downstream of the primary HPC facility. As a result, the UK Met chose SGI to power its SPICE initiative and upgrade its Managed Archive Storage System (MASS).

SGI was selected by the Met Office for its value and performance, allowing users to more easily manage multiple servers and increase system utilization rates. Following the installation in April 2016, the Met Office’s researchers experienced a positive increase in processing capacity, furthering their understanding of meteorology on a global scale.

Technical Information

  • The SGI Rackable system for SPICE has 36 nodes Intel Xeon processor E5-2690 v4, achieving performance of up to 30,000 Gigaflops
  • Data access and storage for MASS is provided by 3.5 PB of DDN Disk (models GS7K, GS12K) to support disk cache
  • ConnectX-3 Pro Adapter with Virtual Protocol Interconnect for both IP and InfiniBand communication
  • Bright Cluster Manager for HPC and Bright OpenStack

To support the growth in its MASS which is a critical adjunct to the Met Office’s supercomputer system archive, the Met Office selected SGI’s solution with DDN storage. MASS acts as a repository or archive for the data resulting from scientific research carried out on the supercomputer as well as global observational data. By 2020, this crucial storage archive is predicted to grow to about 300 Petabytes of weather and climate research data.

Everyone who uses Bright technology says it’s impressive, but you really start seeing the power of our technology when you seamlessly connect solutions together,” said Lee Carter, VP EMEA at Bright Computing. “By coupling its HPC and OpenStack environments with Bright management, the Met Office is in a strong position to accelerate research, and provide world leading applications and climate models to both internal as well as external users.”

To build a well-rounded, turnkey system, the Met Office chose to integrate Bright Cluster Manager for HPC to deploy the new SPICE cluster over bare metal, providing single-pane-of-glass management for the hardware, operating system, HPC software, and users. The Met Office also chose to install Bright OpenStack to enable the IT team easy deployment, provision, and management of its OpenStack-based private-cloud infrastructure.

The Met Office is driving intensive climate research around the globe, and we’re pleased to provide them with an all-inclusive system to power the SPICE program,” said Gabriel Broner, vice president and general manager, HPC at SGI. “By combining our SGI Rackable solution with Bright Computing and DDN technologies, we’re able to provide the Met Office a strong HPC system that not only handles massive data workloads, but also allows easier manageability for researchers and IT managers to operate the computer simultaneously.”

The fact that Bright’s solutions can be administered from a single point of control was a consideration in the Met Office’s decision-making process. With the combined solution of compute, OpenStack, and storage, the Met Office can scale SPICE storage predictably while delivering high-throughput performance to handle simultaneous data reads/writes. Using the SGI system, the Met Office’s researchers can spin up virtual machines easily and operate their own private virtual environment with full control and direct access to their local network. In addition, they can easily increase the capacity of the virtual environment merely by adding more servers to the OpenStack environments.

Scientists using SPICE have already noted significant performance advantages over previous systems, enabling far quicker analysis to support ongoing research. Massive volumes of data are now analyzed in several hours, rather than days. The improvements support and enhance ongoing development of meteorological and climate change research.

Announcement Highlights

  • The UK Met Office has selected SGI to power its new Scientific Processing and Intensive Compute Environment (SPICE), enabling weather and climate researchers to dramatically reduce time required for analyzing climate simulation data.
  • To upgrade its MASS archive, the Met Office has selected SGI together with DDN’s Storage architecture. Currently, the archive stores about 100TB each day and is expected to increase to 200TB per day by 2017.
  • The Met Office has chosen Bright Cluster Manager for HPC to deploy the new SPICE cluster over bare metal, providing single-pane-of-glass management for the hardware, operating system, HPC software, and users. The Met Office has also chosen to install Bright OpenStack, enabling the IT team’s easy deployment, provision, and management of its OpenStack-based private-cloud infrastructure.

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