NCAR Official to Discuss New Supercomputer Friday at Univ. of Wyoming

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September 13, 2021 — A top director with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is coming to the University of Wyoming to discuss the capabilities and uses of a new supercomputer that will be installed in the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) near Cheyenne.

Thomas Hauser, director of NCAR’s Computational and Information Systems Laboratory Technology Development Division, is scheduled to speak at 3:10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17, in Room 103 of the UW Classroom Building.

The new supercomputer, called Derecho, is scheduled to become operational in early 2022. Built by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, the supercomputer will be a 19.87-petaflops system, meaning it will have the theoretical ability to perform 19.87 quadrillion calculations per second. That is about 3.5 times the speed of scientific computing performed by the current NWSC supercomputer, Cheyenne.

Once it begins operations, Derecho is expected to rank among the top 25 or so fastest supercomputers in the world. The innovative system will deliver 20 percent of its sustained computing capability from NVIDIA A100 graphics processing units, with the remainder coming from traditional central processing units.

Hauser will present an overview of the Derecho system architecture, NWSC preparation for the system, and activities and projects preparing applications for graphics processing unit architectures. Additionally, Hauser will present an overview of the work of the analytics and integrative machine learning group, and the visualization and analysis system technologies section in the NCAR Computational and Information Systems Lab.

Hauser assumed his current role with NCAR in March. He previously served as the director of research computing at the University of Colorado. He graduated from the Technical University of Munich, Germany, in 1998 with a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering.

Derecho was selected as the name of the new supercomputer in a statewide competition that drew more than 200 submissions from Wyoming K-12 students. The name was submitted by Cael Arbogast, a student at Riverton Middle School. The term “derecho,” derived from the Spanish word for “direct” or “straight ahead,” refers to a line of powerful and damaging storms that often pack hurricane-force winds and unleash heavy rains and flooding. It’s the type of destructive weather event that scientists hope to learn more about by using the new supercomputer for advanced simulations of the atmosphere and other aspects of the Earth system.

Funding for Derecho, which will cost $35 million to $40 million, comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NWSC is funded by NSF and the state of Wyoming through an appropriation to UW, and with support from Cheyenne LEADS, the Wyoming Business Council and Black Hills Energy.

Since the NWSC opened its doors in 2012, more than 4,000 users from more than 575 universities and other institutions across the nation and overseas have used its resources. Among universities, UW is the largest single user as part of the state’s agreement with NCAR.