NASA adds 4K processors to iDataPlex for climate simulation

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NASA announced this week that the first part of an expanded capability for climate simulation was made available to scientists this month at NASA Goddard. The upgrade added 4,128 Nehalem processors to Goddard’s existing Discover system

Climate simulation images courtesy NASA“We are the first high-end computing site in the United States to install Nehalem processors dedicated to climate research,” said Phil Webster, chief of the Computational and Information Sciences and Technology Office (CISTO) at Goddard. “This new computing system represents a dramatic step forward in performance for climate simulations.”

In preliminary testing of Discover’s Nehalem processors, NASA climate simulations performed up to twice as fast per processor compared to other nationally recognized high-end computing systems. Moreover, the new computational capabilities allow NASA climate scientists to run high-resolution simulations that reproduce atmospheric features not previously seen in their models.

Future upgrades funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 are expected this fall. According to the release, Goddard’s Global Modeling and Assimilation Office typically runs its Earth Observing System Model at a 27-km resolution, but with the expanded capability they are experimenting with resolutions down to 3.5-km

“Once the model goes below 10-kilometer resolution, features such as well-defined hurricane eyewalls and convective cloud clusters appear for the first time,” said William Putman, acting lead of the Advanced Software Technology Group in Goddard’s Software Integration and Visualization Office. “At these cloud-permitting resolutions, the differences are stunning.” Putman has been collaborating with GMAO modeling lead Max Suarez and others on the cubed-sphere configuration of GEOS-5.

More in the release. Tip to HPCwire for the link.