New Supercomputer at the German Climate Computing Center is now operational

July 10, 2015

Bull supercomputer enables for the first time more accurate local climate forecasts for Germany

Bull, the Atos brand for its technology products and software, today announced that it has completed the first installation phase of the new supercomputer “Mistral” at the German Climate Computing Center (DKRZ), based on Intel® Xeon® E5-2680 v3 processors. By 2016, when the supercomputer will operate at full capacity, it will provide 50 petabytes of storage – enough to store more than 10 million feature films – and perform three quadrillion calculations per second, making it one of the most powerful and at the same time energy efficient supercomputers worldwide used only for climate simulations.

Climate forecasts are calculated using three dimensional grids. The smaller each grid cell is the more detailed the simulations. Until now, Germany was represented in climate simulations using in the best case a grid resolution of ten kilometres or more. This is still too coarse to represent small topographical structures and their influences on weather and climate. Up to know small-scale processes like the formation of clouds could only be parameterized in climate models. The new Bull supercomputer enables experiments with a model of Germany using a 100-meter grid and hence the explicit simulation of clouds.

In the final phase that will be delivered in 2016, “Mistral” will have increased computing power compared to the former system, enabling further improvements including ensemble simulations that make it possible to run the same experiment several times with different starting conditions but with the same circumstances, such as a change in the chemical composition of the atmosphere. By the statistical evaluation of the different climate developments simulated, the uncertainties in climate projections can be better estimated and reduced, for example, for rainfall trends. The increased computing power therefore enables statistically more robust results.

“Among the biggest challenges in current climate research are also the complexity and dynamism of the climate as well as the enormous amount of data that has to be calculated and processed in order to acknowledge the correlations between the atmosphere, land surface, sea ice and the oceans,” says Professor Thomas Ludwig, CEO of DKRZ. “With the new system we are able to include even more processes into the calculations, which had to be neglected before.”

Energy Efficiency

With a seven-figure sum, the electricity bill is a more than significant item in the annual budget of DKRZ. In a highly efficient way the Bull supercomputer transforms the necessary electric power into computing power. Thanks to warm-water cooling the installation has a so-called Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) value of 1,2, which means that more than 80 percent of the electrical consumption is used for actual computing and less than 20 percent has to be used for the infrastructure such as cooling.

In its final phase from April 2016 the system will include more than 60,000 Intel processor cores based on bullx B700 DLC blades, distributed to 60 racks.

“The energy consumption in data centres is one of the major cost factors in the digital transformation of the economy,” says Winfried Holz, CEO of Atos Germany. “It is our objective to optimize the total costs of computing processing especially with supercomputer installations.”

Bull will be showing its latest Extreme Computing solutions and bullx supercomputers based on Intel® Xeon® processors at ISC High Performance 2015 from Monday 13th to Wednesday 15th July in Frankfurt, Germany.