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European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts awards contract to Cray

Cray has announced that the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), one of the world’s premier numerical weather prediction and research centres, has selected a Cray XC30 supercomputer and Cray Sonexion storage for its next operational facility. The new Cray system will improve ECMWF’s forecasting capabilities through increased resolution and model enhancements, as well as support ECMWF’s research programme.

ECMWF is focused on the development and operation of global models and data-assimilation systems for the dynamics, thermodynamics, and composition of the Earth and its surrounding systems. An independent intergovernmental organisation supported by 34 European nations, the centre provides operational, extended-range, and seasonal global forecasts throughout the year, as well as specialised research such as wave forecasts and global atmospheric composition.

The Cray multi-petaflops supercomputing infrastructure at ECMWF is designed for operational resiliency and features two Cray XC30 systems and a multi-petabyte Cray Sonexion storage system. The Sonexion system is a fully integrated, scale-out Lustre system designed for a broad range of big data and high-performance computing (HPC) workloads. It offers compact design for maximum density and can reduce the storage footprint by 50 per cent for petascale systems.

Previously code-named ‘Cascade’, the Cray XC30 supercomputer is Cray's most advanced HPC system and is engineered to meet the most demanding performance challenges of HPC users. The Cray XC30 supercomputer features the Aries system interconnect; a Dragonfly network topology that frees applications from locality constraints; an innovative cooling system that utilises a transverse airflow to lower customers’ total cost of ownership; the next-generation of the scalable, high-performance Cray Linux Environment that also supports a wide range of ISV applications; Cray's HPC optimised programming environment; and the ability to handle a wide variety of processor types, including Intel Xeon processors, Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors, and Nvidia Tesla GPU accelerators.

‘I am looking forward to working with Cray to enable us to continue improving the skill of our weather predictions. The Cray system will be a strong foundation to meet our strategic, operational and research objectives,’ said ECMWF director-general, Professor Alan Thorpe. ‘ECMWF’s history of using supercomputers dates back to 1979 when the Centre issued its first operational medium-range weather forecast. Our European member states will all continue to benefit from the ground-breaking weather research we can provide on this new system.’

Consisting of products and multi-year services, the contract is valued at more than $65 million in total revenue and the system is expected to be put into production in 2014. The contract includes options for future upgrades and future technologies.

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