NIWA speeds environmental modeling and hazard forecasting


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An IBM Case Study. The National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research Ltd. (NIWA) required a more powerful supercomputer that would enable development of higher-resolution models of climate, weather, sea-state, sea level,river flows and more, to support betterhazard forecasting and other research.The institute deployed 56 IBM Power 575 supercomputer nodes with a total of 1,792 IBMPOWER6 cores and 34 teraFlops peak performance resulting in increasing performance, accuracy and timing saving.

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NIWA speeds environmental modeling and hazard forecasting

  1. 1. IBM Systems and Technology GovernmentCase Study NIWA speeds environmental modeling and hazard forecasting With supercomputer based on IBM Power Architecture The National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research Ltd. Overview (NIWA) is a New Zealand Crown Research Institute, with a global reputation for its expertise in water and atmospheric research. Its mis- The need sion is to conduct leading environmental science to enable the sustain- NIWA required a more powerful super- able management of natural resources for New Zealand and the rest of computer that would enable develop- ment of higher-resolution models of the planet. NIWA is a separate organization from the Meteorological climate, weather, sea-state, sea level, Service of New Zealand Limited (MetService), which provides the river flows and more, to support better country’s daily national forecasts. hazard forecasting and other research. The solution NIWA wanted to help create a new national capability for research on NIWA deployed 56 IBM® Power® 575 grand-challenge scientific problems—these are fundamental problems supercomputer nodes with a total of in science and engineering that potentially have broad social, political, 1,792 IBM POWER6® cores and 34 teraFlops peak performance. The economic and scientific impact. Equally, the organization wanted to solution uses InfiniBand networking and improve its own modeling capabilities in order to create more accurate is partially water-cooled. and more specific hazard forecasts. The benefit Greater performance: a weather model Dr. Michael Uddstrom, Principal Scientist: Environmental that took 80 minutes to complete on Forecasting, Meteorology & Remote Sensing, and HPCF Manager at 40 percent of the previous system now NIWA, says: “We are always striving to create better forecast models runs in eight minutes on eight percent that more closely reflect New Zealand’s complex geography, use more of the new system, and is twice as detailed. data, and deliver faster and more reliable forecasts of hazards such as river flooding and coastal inundation. In addition, we wanted to sup- port research into other grand-challenge problems, to enable New Zealand scientists to carry out internationally significant work. Our existing supercomputer from Cray was effectively five years past its ‘use-by’ date.” Intensive selection NIWA required a supercomputer offering both extreme compute power and very high-speed networking. The organization compiled a request for proposals (RFP) spanning 288 specific requirements and specifying eight science- and two industry-benchmark codes.
  2. 2. IBM Systems and Technology GovernmentCase Study “We were setting out to create a major strategic asset for NIWA and for New Zealand, and making a major investment, so it was “We were very impressed vital to find the best possible solution for our requirements,” says with the quality of the Michael Uddstrom. IBM people and After an exhaustive analysis of the vendor responses, the decision- processes—they did makers at NIWA unanimously chose IBM to supply the new super- an excellent job.” computer, named FitzRoy in honor of the pioneering meteorologist. “We had never worked with IBM before, but it soon became clear that their proposed solution was the superior option and would be —Michael Uddstrom, Principal Scientist: Environmental Forecasting, Meteorology & backed by genuine expertise in high-performance computing,” says Remote Sensing, and HPCF Manager, Michael Uddstrom. National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research Ltd. (NIWA) Powering up The FitzRoy supercomputer at NIWA consists of 56 IBM Power® 575 servers, each with 32 IBM POWER6 processing cores running AIX® 5.3L, for a total of 1,792 cores. Each of the cores runs at 4.7 GHz, and the system has 5.38 TB of memory; a planned upgrade will see FitzRoy grow to 3,456 processor cores and 8.7 TB of memory. Management tools for the supercomputer include IBM Tivoli® Workload Scheduler LoadLeveler®, which enables NIWA to optimize the utilization of compute resources at all times. FitzRoy uses ultra-fast InfiniBand networking to connect to a data storage cluster powered by IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS™) running on IBM Power Systems™ servers. The data itself is stored on two high-performance IBM System Storage® DCS9900 arrays, currently with 600 TB capacity and due to be upgraded to 2 PB. IBM Tivoli Storage Manager software enables hierarchical stor- age management, whereby data that is not required for high-speed access can be moved to lower-cost media. Such data is first moved from the SAS tier to the slower SATA tier in the DCS9900, then ulti- mately to an IBM System Storage TS3500 Tape Library. A second IBM TS3500 backs up all data for disaster recovery purposes. “Before implementing the supercomputer, we first needed to build the infrastructure to house it, including a water cooling system,” says Michael Uddstrom. “During that time, IBM hosted the solution in one of its data centers, later handling the move to our new site. That meant two separate sets of complex acceptance and verification tests; we were very impressed with the quality of the IBM people and processes—they did an excellent job.” 2
  3. 3. IBM Systems and Technology GovernmentCase Study FitzRoy is powered and cooled by a new plant facility that incorporates Solution components: a 1 MW transformer, two 370 kW air-cooled water chillers, and a cooling circuit that can hold 5,500 liters of chilled water. Water Hardware cooling accounts for 70 percent of requirements, enabling NIWA to ● IBM® Power® 575 minimize its air-conditioning capacity and consequently to keep its ● IBM Power 520 ● IBM System Storage® DCS9900 electricity usage down. ● IBM System Storage TS3500 Tape Library The IBM supercomputer at NIWA runs a large number of different Software simulations, including operational models for weather and wave ● IBM General Parallel File System prediction and research models for weather, climate, oceans and envi- (GPFS™) ronmental chemistry. It is also available for use by the broader scien- ● IBM Tivoli® Storage Manager tific community in New Zealand, who can access it via KAREN [the ● IBM AIX® 5.3L ● IBM Tivoli Workload Scheduler Kiwi Advanced Research & Education Network]. LoadLeveler® Speeding through work FitzRoy is already a major strategic asset for NIWA and New Zealand, and is supporting the New Zealand scientific community in conducting internationally significant research. Relative to the Cray T3E super- computer that it replaced, FitzRoy in its pre-upgrade state offers 3.3 times the processor count and 7.8 times the processor frequency, 45 times the memory and 500 times the disk capacity, yet requires only 3.1 times the electrical power. Its peak performance of 34 trillion float- ing-point operations per second (teraFlops) is 50 to 80 times higher. When upgraded, the system will offer 65 teraFlops. “With higher performance and reliability, the new IBM supercomputer is enabling our users to accomplish more work in less time,” says Michael Uddstrom. “For example, one user reported that a 20-year climate model simulation that used to take one month to complete is now done in 24 hours. A weather model that took 80 minutes to complete on 40 percent of the previous system will now run in eight minutes on about eight percent of the new system—and that’s with a model twice as detailed as before. This is a key point: we now have the capacity to significantly increase the complexity (and thereby the qual- ity) of simulations.” John Morgan, NIWA Chief Executive, says: “We have no doubt that FitzRoy will provide benefits for all New Zealanders, as accurate environmental forecasting is essential for the future growth of New Zealand’s most important industries.” 3
  4. 4. For more informationContact your IBM sales representative orIBM Business Partner, or visit the following more information about NIWA visit:, financing solutions from IBM Global Financing canenable effective cash management, protection from technologyobsolescence, improved total cost of ownership and return on invest-ment. Also, our Global Asset Recovery Services help address environ-mental concerns with new, more energy-efficient solutions. For moreinformation on IBM Global Financing, visit:© Copyright IBM Corporation 2010IBM Systems and Technology GroupRoute 100Somers, New York 10589U.S.A.Produced in the United States of AmericaDecember 2010All Rights ReservedIBM, the IBM logo,, AIX, GPFS, LoadLeveler, POWER6, Power Systems,System Storage and Tivoli are trademarks of International Business MachinesCorporation in the United States, other countries or both. If these and otherIBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this informationwith a trademark symbol (® or ™), these symbols indicate U.S. registeredor common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information waspublished. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarksin other countries. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at“Copyright and trademark information” at company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marksof others.References in this publication to IBM products or services do not imply thatIBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates.Offerings are subject to change, extension or withdrawal without notice. Allclient examples cited represent how some clients have used IBM products andthe results they may have achieved.The information in this document is provided “as-is” without any warranty,either expressed or implied. Please Recycle DCC03008-USEN-00