Staff News

Yellowstone, NWSC enter the home stretch

Supercomputing center to open this fall

August 9, 2012 | A busy few weeks are coming up for CISL staff, as the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center prepares to open its doors to the public and its computing resources to the community.

Yellowstone supercomputer at NWSC
An iconic scene from Yellowstone National Park is featured mosaic-style on the ends of each module of the Yellowstone supercomputer. The image by Michael Medford, licensed to National Geographic, shows Fountain Geyser, which erupts every 9-15 hours to a height of 200 feet (70 meters). (©UCAR. Photo by Marijke Unger, NCAR.)

CISL’s Dave Hart reports that IBM and the lab have made significant progress on the complex installation of the 1.5-petaflops Yellowstone supercomputer and its 11-petabyte disk resource. IBM has run performance tests, most hardware installation issues have been resolved, and most key software is installed.

Yellowstone is now undergoing a battery of tests to ensure the system is performing as expected. This phase will be followed by a three-week Acceptance Testing Period, during which IBM and CISL will jointly conduct benchmarks and run the system with a simulated workload around the clock. Once Yellowstone successfully passes the acceptance tests, CISL will take over the system from IBM, with a few days allowed for NCAR-specific configuration and customization.

First in the queue for Yellowstone will be a set of 11 computing-intensive projects approved as part of the two-month-long Accelerated Scientific Discovery initiative. Chosen from applicants at NCAR and in the university community, ASD projects will serve to inaugurate Yellowstone, carrying out large amounts of computing over a short period, while tackling major problems in Earth and atmospheric science. The ASD list for Yellowstone includes very high-resolution global climate simulations; high-resolution studies of North American air quality; simulations of turbulence in the ocean, atmosphere, and heliosphere; and earthquake simulations to develop three-dimensional models of Earth structure.

Exterior of NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center
The NWSC lobby and visitor center flanks the south side of the building. (©UCAR.  Photo by Carlye Calvin.) 

After the ASD projects are complete, the baton for other large-scale computing will gradually be passed from Bluefire to Yellowstone. NCAR plans to keep the ML-based Bluefire running at least through the end of October, says Dave.

The visitor experience

As the machinery in the NWSC gears up, the building’s public face is also taking shape, says CISL’s Marijke Unger. She and colleagues are putting final touches on an array of exhibits to be installed in the NWSC lobby. These will include several stations with interactive touchscreens, including one designed for children. Also debuting with the building will be a short introductory video featuring NCAR scientists and others involved with the NWSC.

UCAR trustees will join Wyoming dignitaries, NWSC business partners, and NSF officials, including director Subra Suresh, for a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday, October 15. Representatives from UCAR member institutions will have a chance to see the facility the next day, as part of an optional morning bus trip before their annual meeting begins at Center Green.

Starting October 17, the building will be open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays. Administrative assistant Jenny Brennan, who’s already working onsite, will be the point of contact for group visits.