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September 19, 2012
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Final testing for Cheyenne NCAR supercomputer

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Final testing is being done on a National Center for Atmospheric Research supercomputer on the outskirts of Cheyenne that will be used for climate modeling and other Earth sciences.

Research is expected to begin this fall on the new computer, called Yellowstone, which has enough power to rank among the top dozen or so fastest supercomputers in the world right now. The roughly $30 million IBM machine fills much of a 153,000 square foot custom-built facility.

Boulder, Colo.-based NCAR already has lined up 11 initial research projects that will get time on its machine starting this fall, NCAR spokesman David Hosansky said.

One of the upcoming projects will model air movement inside hurricanes and tornadoes. Another will examine how weather and air quality could change in North America in the years ahead.

First, the machine needs to pass its final tests. The process is more complicated than trying out a new laptop.

"These complex systems need extensive testing and analysis before we could formally accept it," Hosansky said Wednesday.

NCAR hopes to wrap up testing and accept the supercomputer in October. A ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring Gov. Matt Mead and National Science Foundation Director Subra Suresh is scheduled for Oct. 15.

The computer will run at a speed of up to 1.5 petaflops, or 1.5 quadrillion operations per second, making it one of the world's fastest supercomputers dedicated to science.

The supercomputer is 30 times more powerful than the machine currently in use at NCAR's Mesa Laboratory in Boulder.

NCAR has a long history of using supercomputers. One of the world's first, the Cray 1-A, crunched numbers at NCAR from 1977 to 1989. The Yellowstone supercomputer will be 9.7 million times faster with 3.4 million times the disk capacity and 19 million times the central memory size of the Cray 1-A, according to NCAR.

NCAR is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The Wyoming Legislature committed $21 million for the supercomputer project in 2007.


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The Summit Daily Updated Sep 19, 2012 06:44PM Published Sep 19, 2012 06:43PM Copyright 2012 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.