Sustain and enhance the NWSC

Installing support equipment
Members of the NWSC Infrastructure Support Group are shown installing new electrical transformers. These transformers supply 208-volt power to the GLADE-2 and NWSC-2 test equipment.

CISL built the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) to provide advanced high-performance computing (HPC), data storage, and data analysis capabilities for many years into the future to maintain NCAR’s leadership position in geosciences computing capability and capacity. CISL regularly enhances the NWSC while maximizing its efficiency, sustainability, and usability. The NWSC is designed to meet the rapidly growing HPC needs of Earth System scientists and to encourage broader participation in this scientific enterprise. Earth System scientists need petascale computing, data analysis, and visualization resources combined with exascale data management capabilities to support greater model resolution, increased model complexity, better statistics, more predictive power, and longer simulation times. The NWSC faces its next big test in 2016 as the incoming supercomputer named Cheyenne will increase the electrical load by almost 2 MW. That additional load should make it possible to meet or exceed the facility's design energy efficiency.

The NWSC is fully aligned with NSF’s vision for 21st-century cyberinfrastructure and directly contributes to the nation’s petascale computing capability. The facility is a peer with other NSF facilities and serves as a “stepping stone” for Earth System science investigators to fully utilize the largest systems available, such as NCSA’s Blue Waters. CISL’s first strategic imperative is to provide HPC facilities for the Earth System sciences: “A foundational element of CISL’s mission is to deploy and operate the physical and virtual computational facilities needed to support the science community. Essential to this mission is the design, construction, and operation of a new data center capable of meeting future scientific computing challenges in the atmospheric sciences.”

All planning for installing and integrating the incoming 5.3-petaflops HPC system Cheyenne was completed in FY2016. A design-build contract was awarded to Saunders Construction Inc. Design efforts were complete by spring 2016, with construction documents sufficient for permits in the summer. Fit-up efforts began in earnest in late summer with a majority of the work complete by September. During September the NWSC accepted delivery of the Cheyenne supercomputer, disk storage equipment for the GLADE-2 file systems, and two automated data storage modules for enhancing the tape archive.

The operational expenses and HPC fitup for NWSC during FY2016 were met using NSF Core funds.