Cray Shasta Supercomputer to power weather forecasting for U.S. Air Force

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Today Cray announced that their first Shasta supercomputing system for operational weather forecasting and meteorology will be acquired by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The powerful high-performance computing capabilities of the new system, named HPC11, will enable higher fidelity weather forecasts for U.S. Air Force and Army operations worldwide. The contract is valued at $25 million.

We’re excited with our Oak Ridge National Laboratory strategic partner’s selection of Cray to provide Air Force Weather’s next high performance computing system,” said Steven Wert, Program Executive Officer Digital, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts, and a member of the Senior Executive Service. “The system’s performance will be a significant increase over the existing HPC capability and will provide Air Force Weather operators with the ability to run the next generation of high-resolution, global and regional models, and satisfy existing and emerging warfighter needs for environmental impacts to operations planning.”

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has a history of deploying the world’s most powerful supercomputers and through this partnership, will provide supercomputing-as-a-service on the HPC11 Shasta system to the Air Force 557th Weather Wing. The 557th Weather Wing develops and provides comprehensive terrestrial and space weather information to the U.S. Air Force and Army. The new system will feature the revolutionary Cray Slingshot interconnect, with features to better support time-critical numerical weather prediction workloads, and will enhance the Air Force’s capabilities to create improved weather forecasts and weather threat assessments so that Air Force missions can be carried out more effectively.

The HPC11 system will be the first Shasta delivery to the production weather segment, and we’re proud to share this milestone with ORNL and the Air Force,” said Peter Ungaro, president and CEO at Cray. “The years of innovation behind Shasta and Slingshot and the success of prior generations of Cray systems continue to demonstrate Cray’s ability to support demanding 24/7 operations like weather forecasting. This is a great example of the upcoming Exascale Era bringing a new set of technologies to bear on challenging problems and empowering the Air Force to more effectively execute on its important mission.”

In this video, Cray CTO Steve Scott announces Slingshot, the company’s new high-speed, purpose-built supercomputing interconnect, and introduces its many ground-breaking features.

HPC11 will be ORNL’s first Cray Shasta system, as well as the first supercomputing system with 2nd Gen AMD EPYC™ processors for use in operational weather forecasting. HPC11 will join the 85% bastion of weather centers that rely on Cray, and will feature eight Shasta cabinets in a dual-hall configuration.

We are incredibly excited to continue our strategic collaboration with Cray to deliver the first Shasta supercomputer to the U.S. Air Force, helping to improve the fidelity of weather forecasts for U.S. military operations around the globe,” said Forrest Norrod, senior vice president and general manager, Datacenter and Embedded Systems Group, AMD. “The 2nd Gen AMD EPYC processors provide exceptional performance in highly complex workloads, a necessary component to power critical weather prediction workloads and deliver more accurate forecasts.”

The system is expected to be delivered in Q4 2019 and accepted in early 2020.

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