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UKs Met office to upgrade HPC facilities

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Cray has been awarded a contract to provide the Met Office in the United Kingdom with multiple Cray XC supercomputers and Cray Sonexion storage systems.

The new systems will provide the UK's Met office with its most powerful supercomputer to date. Headquartered in Exeter, England, the Met Office is the United Kingdom’s national weather service. It uses more than 10 million weather observations per day and an advanced atmospheric model to create 3,000 tailored forecasts and briefings each day that are delivered to customers ranging from government, businesses, the general public, to the armed forces.

Consisting of three phases over several years, the £97 million ($128 million) contract expands Cray’s significant presence in the global weather and climate community, and is the largest supercomputer contract ever for Cray outside of the United States.

The UK Government claimed that the new supercomputer will deliver an estimated £2 billion of socio-economic benefits for the UK, through enhanced resilience to severe weather and related hazards.

The system, based on a Cray XC4, will be the largest and most expensive in the UK. Part of the supercomputer will be sited at the IT Halls at the Met Office HQ in Exeter and part is expected to be sited at a purpose-designed building at the nearby Exeter Science Park.

Peter Ungaro, president and CEO of Cray said: ‘We are truly honoured that one of the most prestigious weather centres in the world has awarded us with the largest international contract in Cray's history.’

‘The Met Office is both a pioneer and leader in weather and climate services, and we are excited that Cray supercomputers and storage solutions will assist them in achieving their important and complex mission of informing citizens and industry how the weather and climate will affect them now and in the future.’

In their final configurations, the Cray supercomputers at the Met Office will have 13 times more supercomputing power than its current systems. Met Office Chief Executive Rob Varley said: ‘We are very excited about this investment in UK science. It will lead to a step change in weather forecasting and climate prediction, and give us the capability to strengthen our collaborations with partners in the South West, UK, and around the world. It will help make the UK more resilient to high impact weather and other environmental risks.’

Ungaro said: ‘The award demonstrates that our systems continue to be the supercomputers of choice for production weather centres across the globe, that our close relationship with Intel is providing customers with enhanced capabilities today and into the future, and it reinforces the role that Cray plays in impacting society on a daily basis in a wide range of areas.'