Cray Continues Hot Streak in Earth Science Wins with JMA Deployment


The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has installed two Cray XC50 supercomputers, further cementing Cray’s position as the leading supplier of HPC systems for weather and climate centers.

In the case of JMA, the new systems will be used to provided weather forecasting, as well as to study the effects of the atmosphere and oceans on extreme weather events like typhoons. Because of the country’s location in the eastern Pacific, it is particularly exposed to such storms. Being able to better predict their behavior could help save lives and minimize damage to infrastructure.

According to JMA, the new supercomputers will be able to more accurately forecast the extent of rainfall in these typhoons 15 hours ahead of its arrival, improving on the six-hour window they now have with the agency’s current supercomputers. That additional nine hours gives emergency response teams a lot more time to move people out of harm’s way. The system will also be able to predict the wind speed of typhoons up to five days in advance, providing more opportunity to prevent damage to structures and better prepare disaster response teams.

Both systems are powered exclusively by Xeon Scalable processors and are backed by three Lustre file systems apiece.  Although Cray is the hardware provider, system integration will be performed by Hitachi Ltd., which is the prime contractor.

Over the last five years, Cray has established itself as the dominant supplier of these types of systems, primarily based on its XC40 and XC50 products. Currently 13 of the company’s 53 supercomputers on the TOP500 list are devoted to weather prediction, climate studies, or other earth sciences. And that doesn’t count the pair of XC40 systems installed earlier this year by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) in India. Given that they are petascale-sized supercomputers, both should secure spots on the next list in June.

Besides the JMA and MoES machines, Cray has supercomputers running at these centers: the UK Met Office (three systems), the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (two systems), the Korea Meteorological Administration (two XC40 systems), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (two systems), the German Weather Service (two systems), and Shared Services Canada (two systems). Together these machines represent more than 62 petaflops of peak processing power. As of now, nearly 30 percent of that total is provided by the new JMA supercomputers.

The agency plans to put the two XC50 systems into production over the next few months.

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