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The upgrade at NASA's NCCS centre is nearing completion

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May 4, 2015

The ongoing upgrade at NASA's Centre for Climate Simulation (NCCS) centre is nearing completion, with the agency just about ready to turn the switch on the second of 3 new SGI systems.

The upgrade initiative, which was won by SGI in November of last year, will replace the former IBM mainframe with 35,500-plus Intel Xeon cores to more than 64,500 Haswell cores, each with 4 GB-plus of RAM memory.

The SGI equipment will replace units dating from 2011. The project is about 68 percent complete, with the 30,000-plus-core Scalable Compute Unit (SCU) 10 online since January and the 16,800-core SCU 11 currently undergoing complex system tests.

The project should be complete by the end of the month, when SCU 12 goes online for good.

NASA added that SCU 10's primary project is to improve the spatial resolution of climate models in what's called the Downscaling Project.

The NASA project uses the SCU's 138 terabytes of memory to run the GEOS-5 model running at 12 km, with regional models down to 4 km resolution.

“Scientists are comparing how well the models predict three weather phenomena impacting the continental United States-- Northeast wintertime storms, midcontinent summertime storms, and West Coast wintertime atmospheric rivers”, NASA says.

Each 28-core node has a 56 Gbps non-blocking InfiniBand connection, and the Discover facility's system-wide storage is being doubled to 33 petabytes.

NASA writes that the upgrade demanded “planning for nearly 1 megawatt of power and 400 tons of cooling, ensuring the vendor factory configures the racks for optimal onsite operations, and acquiring 10 nodes for the NCCS Test and Development System (TDS) to prepare the operating system (OS) and software stack.”

Naturally, NASA also notes that its system admins scrub all NASA data off the old hardware before physically removing it. No surprises here.

Source: NASA.

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