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AMD Government Supercomputing Science

ORNL's Newest Petaflop Climate Computer To Come Online For NOAA 66

Posted by timothy
from the why-yes-interior-decoration-is-important dept.
bricko writes with a description of NOAA's Gaea supercomputer, being assembled at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It's some big iron: 1.1 petaflops, based on 16-core Interlagos chips from AMD, and built by Cray. "The system, which is used for climate modeling and resource, also includes two separate Lustre parallel file systems 'that handle data sets that rank among the world's largest,' ORNL said. 'NOAA research partners access the system remotely through speedy wide area connections. Two 10-gigabit (billion bit) lambdas, or optical waves, pass data to NOAA's national research network through peering points at Atlanta and Chicago.'"
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ORNL's Newest Petaflop Climate Computer To Come Online For NOAA

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  • I wonder ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:40PM (#38463236) Homepage Journal

    How much a Petaflop Climate Super Computers contribute to carbon footprint...

    • by Ichijo (607641)

      How much a Petaflop Climate Super Computers contribute to carbon footprint...

      If it ultimately saves CO2, consider this computer's carbon footprint an "investment."

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ackthpt (218170)

        How much a Petaflop Climate Super Computers contribute to carbon footprint...

        If it ultimately saves CO2, consider this computer's carbon footprint an "investment."

        The final word on reducing CO2 will not come from a computer, no matter the processing power, but the sandbag crews as they try to save New York City, San Francisco, London, Tokyo, Shanghai, Sydney, the Netherlands, etc.

      • by BlueStrat (756137)

        If it ultimately saves CO2, consider this computer's carbon footprint an "investment."

        At this point in the state of Man's understanding of the Earth's climate system, we're not capable of anything approaching accurate medium to long term modeling, so we're not even sure there's a problem, whether we caused it or not, to solve...nor that limiting carbon in the way it's been implemented is the solution if there were.

        Heck, we're still attempting to accurately model WW2 battles and their environment and physics in FPS's, and we have a far better grasp of both the variables involved and the algor

        • by riverat1 (1048260)

          Magma currents affect climate? That's a new one on me. I guess to the extent that they change the surface topology they can affect climate but it's a geologic process that doesn't happen very fast on human time scales.

          Climate models are far from perfect but they're better than you can do without them. Hansen's 1988 projections for scenario B (which was closest to actual CO2 rise in the atmosphere) are a bit above current temperatures but he used a climate sensitivity of 4 when the actual value appears to

          • by BlueStrat (756137)

            Magma currents affect climate? That's a new one on me.

            That's the point. It would be a "new one" to everyone, including scientists. They don't know. Is there proof magma currents don't affect the global climate? Either directly or indirectly? Global climate science has barely even reached "abacus" levels of sophistication, never mind "UNIVAC" levels of knowledge & expertise.

            Climate models are far from perfect but they're better than you can do without them.

            You're kidding here, right? I mean, you're not saying we should make major changes in both the nation's and the entire world's economic and energy systems, necessarily causing immense di

            • by spike hay (534165)

              There's no plausible mechanism for magma currents to influence climate. It's like saying ocean currents in Europa affect Earth's climate. Climate models do a decent job of simulating climate (benchmarked against past climate) and are getting more sophisticated all the time. It's not hocus pocus, they are based on physical laws. If something has a negligible effect on energy balance, it probably does not affect climate.

              • by BlueStrat (756137)

                There's no plausible mechanism for magma currents to influence climate. It's like saying ocean currents in Europa affect Earth's climate. Climate models do a decent job of simulating climate (benchmarked against past climate) and are getting more sophisticated all the time. It's not hocus pocus, they are based on physical laws. If something has a negligible effect on energy balance, it probably does not affect climate.

                Look, I just pulled "magma currents" out of the air as an example of some area of understanding that's not very advanced that could in some unknown fashion affect global climate patterns. Maybe it doesn't. Has anyone published a paper that rules out magma currents as having any global climate? That's my point. We're not even sure at this point what to include or exclude in climate models.

                IMHO, there's simply not enough data yet, and humans simply haven't learned enough yet, to be able to make global climate

                • by BlueStrat (756137)

                  Has anyone published a paper that rules out magma currents as having any effect on global climate?

                  Oops.

    • by Entropius (188861)

      Very little, if it's powered from nuclear power (or solar/wind/geothermal).

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        Very little, if it's powered from nuclear power (or solar/wind/geothermal).

        Which is still a tiny % of power generation. But I remain hopeful.

        Have a peek at this in Solano County, California or have a peek via Google Maps [google.com] Very impressive area to drive through.

        I just hope these advances in super computing are taking best advantage of low power processors

        • by ackthpt (218170)

          the blasted Solano link [fromthereporter.com], take two.

        • by Artifakt (700173)

          For once, your hopes are somewhat rewarded, and if you're OK on Hydro too, you should be thrilled. See my post above.There's still some Coal generation in the area, but Wind is catching on fast, plus for the last few years rainfall remains up pretty consistently over historic levels, and TVA would rather run that water through a turbine or three than just let it spill over the tops of the dams. Ash spill problems at TVA's Kingston plant 3 years ago have made Coal less popular with a lot of people, so hopefu

      • by Artifakt (700173)

        It's in Eastern Tennessee, so it could get some Nuclear generated electricity from Watt's Bar, but it's probably mostly Hydroelectric, from TVA's Melton Hill and Norris dams, and lately some Wind Turbine based - I can stand on a modest hill and see the ORNL front gate to one side and half a dozen turbines to the other, say 12 miles apart total.

    • by mikael (484)

      Work out their power consumption per core in watts/GigaFlops. Getting the maximum amount of performance out of the highest density of processors with the least amount of space. is the highest priority for suppliers now.

      Top-end gaming rig have 1000watt power units to handle SLI/Crossfire GPU's as well as a quad-core CPU. Multiply that by the number of processing nodes, and you'll get an idea of the power consumption. Standard home has a 15 to 20 kilowatt limit to the electricity supply.

      So a super-computer is

      • by stevelinton (4044)

        The article says 2.2MW, which is roughly 2W/GFLOP.

        • by mikael (484)

          Just think of all the homeless people that wasted heat to help keep warm this winter.

          Some cities and offices, they would use heat exchangers to reuse that heat to keep car-parks or offices warm.ts

          • by stevelinton (4044)

            Any reason to believe ORNL aren't using the heat from their supercomputers for offices or whatever?

            • by mikael (484)

              I guess not, but with the company I interned for, they had an IBM 360 mainframe with a good dozen air conditioning units on the exterior wall of the car park. Whenever one of these overheated, it was due to some poor homeless guy setting up a shelter around these vents.

  • by burning-toast (925667) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:53PM (#38463480)

    It's disheartening that most of the first posters are all trolls wondering why we would ever need this or are just trying to get cheap jabs in on a site for nerds. If you don't like the science behind it (climate sciences), or you don't like the technology behind it (computing systems), then why come here to comment?

    Personally, I don't put much stock in the climate modeling capabilities of it just because that is not my area of study or interest. But having another large supercomputer with interconnects running at this speed is pretty cool.

    I've worked at a company that had 8 of these 10Gb waves worth of bandwidth between Chicago and NY (and at an extremely low latency), now THAT was fun! On the other hand, the prisms and optics you need in order to separate out the lightwaves were hideously expensive :)

    - Toast

    • It's disheartening that most of the first posters are all trolls wondering why we would ever need this or are just trying to get cheap jabs in on a site for nerds. If you don't like the science behind it (climate sciences), or you don't like the technology behind it (computing systems), then why come here to comment?

      You think that's bad, try reading the comments on TFA.

      It seems there's never been a better time to be a Luddite than the present...

      • by riverat1 (1048260)

        No, the climate Luddites are a diminishing bunch. Reality is overtaking them. In 10 years there won't be many of them left.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Slashdot always has its element of AC fun-seekers.

      The hardware is neat, like seeing an incrementally better Ferrari (which is a car, if you don't get out much) The real blood and guts of these systems, though are sensors scattered all over land and sea. A friend worked a year for an agency which monitors ocean currents - trips out to their stations could be months long and working in miserable conditions (not unlike fishermen, whose livlihoods depend upon bringing in a catch) taking readings, inspecting e

  • On a related note, today I worked 28.8 million milliseconds.
  • Ever since the 1960's and big Control Data Corporation iron the latest/greatest supercomputer always seems headed towards weather forecasting/climate modeling. And we still can't accurately say where the next hurricane will make landfall in 3 days, or if I'm going to get rained on tomorrow.

    • by radtea (464814)

      And we still can't accurately say where the next hurricane will make landfall in 3 days, or if I'm going to get rained on tomorrow.

      Von Neumann apparently envisioned a world where computer scientists were like high priests, because he thought automated computation would allow us to control almost everything and predict what we couldn't control.

      He couldn't imagine that there would be things so entirely resistant to prediction and control, and since for some reason he believed that the universe cared two pins for what he or anyone else could or could not imagine he concluded that no such processes could exist.

      He didn't know about determin

      • by Trepidity (597)

        Interesting bit about the solar system and chaos. As far as open-access papers, this [pnas.org] seems like an interesting overview, though it's about a decade old now.

  • [looking at picture linked] Where's the dining table? The napkins? A couple ASIMO waiters?

    • by ajlitt (19055)

      Cray hasn't yet figured out how to maintain coherency within the waiter's bill pad array.

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