The US Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have renewed their collaboration and agreement and will install a new supercomputer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

For the last 11 years the two agencies have been conducting climate research at The National Climate-Computing Research Center (NCRC), hosted by ORNL. The new announcement extends that partnership for another five years and includes funding for a new high-performance computing (HPC) system.

“Our common goal is to develop, test, and apply state-of-the-science computer-based global climate simulation models, based upon a strong scientific foundation while leveraging leading–edge HPC and information technologies,” said Jim Rogers, ORNL’s liaison for the program and NCCS computing and facilities director. “The objective is to increase dramatically the resolution, complexity, and throughput of computer model–based projections of climate variability and change to enable sound decision-making on issues of national importance, such as future energy use and technology options.”

Oak Ridge plans for fifth iteration of Gaia supercomputer

Oak Ridge National Laboratory
– DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

The process for acquiring a new NCRC supercomputer is underway for a planned 2021 installation. Rogers said he expects the updated system to achieve a performance capability of around 10 petaflops of peak computing—even without GPU accelerators installed.

Established in 2009 with the aim of improving NOAA’s climate-modeling capabilities with HPC and study climate change, mitigation strategies, and adaptation options for the US, the center was initially equipped with a 260-teraflop Cray XT6. NCCS has installed four different systems under the name Gaea and currently consists of a pair of Cray XC40 supercomputers, capable of 5.29 petaflops.

Gaea’s principal user is the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), NOAA’s science unit dedicated to advancing the scientific understanding of the physical, dynamical, chemical, and biogeochemical processes governing the behavior of the atmosphere, oceans, land, and ice components and their interactions with the ecosystem.