Acquire, deploy, and maintain CI resources

CISL deploys and operates NCAR’s high performance computing (HPC) environment on behalf of the atmospheric and related sciences community. The integrated petascale computing, analysis, visualization, networking, data storage, and archival systems constitute a world-class HPC resource for about 2,500 researchers from institutions throughout the U.S. and abroad.

The efficient design, operation, and maintenance of NCAR’s HPC environment supports scientific productivity at research universities, NCAR, and other organizations, and CISL’s ongoing leadership in providing discipline-focused computing services is a critical role for NCAR as a national center. Efficiently managing data is essential for progress on the grand challenges of numerically modeling the Earth System, and every user of CISL’s HPC environment benefits from its data-centric configuration. Users can now arrange their workflows to use stored data directly without first needing to move or copy it. The design of the environment has proven to be efficient, reliable, and user friendly. Moreover, incremental refinements have improved operations and the user experience.

The supercomputing CI at the NWSC was being upgraded at the end of FY2016 with the addition of the 5.34-petaflops HPC system named Cheyenne, along with a 20-petabyte increment to the shared file system that has a 220 gigabyte-per-second bandwidth. These resources are scheduled to begin production in January 2017. They will augment the existing CI which includes Yellowstone, a 1.5-petaflops HPC system; GLADE, a 16.4-petabyte shared parallel file system; Caldera and Geyser, two separate data analysis and visualization (DAV) clusters featuring general purpose graphics processing units (GPGPUs); and HPSS, a disk- and tape-based archival system currently holding more than 66 petabytes of data. In addition to deploying the new CI resources, CISL is also is actively experimenting with its HPC Futures Lab, an infrastructure to support the testing of early-release HPC hardware and software.

CISL’s goals and actions in this area directly support the broader goals of the NCAR Strategic Plan, CISL’s Strategic Plan and the NSF’s Cyberinfrastructure Framework for 21st Century Science and Engineering (CIF21 Vision). The NCAR Strategic Plan states that “High Performance Computing (HPC) is one of the foundational elements of NCAR’s scientific research and publications.” One of CISL’s key strategic imperatives is advancing Earth System science by expanding the productivity of researchers through HPC and data services, so CISL provides and refines a portfolio of advanced computing and data services specifically tailored for the atmospheric, geospace, and related sciences communities. CISL services evolve in response to changes in the underlying computational technologies and the scientific demands of the community, informed by the research and development activities performed under CISL Strategic Goal 2.

Yellowstone and its associated complex of HPC systems and storage resources operated in full production status throughout FY2016. CISL will continue operating Yellowstone through calendar year 2017. The Cheyenne HPC system was installed and powered up at the NWSC by end-FY2016. Integration and testing efforts will be underway during Q1 FY2017 to ready the system for production by January 2017.

NCAR’s supercomputers are managed by CISL under the UCAR/NSF Cooperative Agreement and are supported by NSF Core funds.