Sustain and enhance the NWSC

Heat Exchanger 3 is at the left of this photo. In addition to improving the NWSC’s capacity, this unit provides the redundancy necessary to service other heat exchangers without interrupting supercomputing operations.

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 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.”

Operation of the new Cheyenne supercomputer in FY2017 provided the electrical load needed for the NWSC to reach its designed facility Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) metric of 1.08. The power demand from Yellowstone’s existing load was not large enough for the facility to achieve optimum efficiency. Also during FY2017, CISL staff achieved key milestones to enhance the NWSC’s computing mission. Enhancements to the NWSC facility infrastructure included these project milestones:

  • Installation and operation of a third 750-ton flat-plate heat exchanger (see figure above) to improve the facility’s capacity and redundancy.

  • Installation and operation of an Electrical Power Monitoring System (EPMS – see figure below) that is independent of the building automation system so facility staff can monitor the system and investigate power concerns.

The operational expenses and HPC fitup for NWSC during FY2017 were met using NSF Core funds.

EPMS interface
This screenshot shows the user interface for the NWSC’s new Electrical Power Monitoring System (EPMS), which allows CISL staff to monitor the system and investigate power issues independent of the Building Automation System. The EPMS advances the state of the art in HPC system management and operations. It also keeps NCAR in its leading role for sharing best practices with peer institutions.