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Message from SCD Director Al Kellie

I am pleased to highlight some of SCD's many activities during FY2000. It has been a challenging and productive time for SCD staff. We have overseen major machine upgrades resulting in a 400% increase in available compute cycles for our community, provided for new mass storage capabilities, enhanced our visualization resources, subcontracted with UCAR to provide for enterprise web services, and provided easier access to and management of treasured research datasets. SCD has moved confidently out of the doldrums of the aborted NEC system acquisition and has become a vibrant, energetic provider of the services required by our constituents. Our mission is to support large and small research investigators, no matter where they are located and to empower them with access to user-centered computing facilities.

Greetings from the SCD staff

SCD staff

A major milestone in FY2000 was the upgrade of the computing capabilities of the IBM RS/6000 SP supercomputer (blackforest) to a 151-node, 604-processor cluster running the AIX operating system. Blackforest now provides 135 compute nodes that are equally divided between Community Computing users and the Climate Simulation Lab. Upgrades were also applied to our test IBM SP system (babyblue) and to our Compaq ES40 evaluation system (prospect). This, in conjunction with our other production systems (four SGI Origin 2000 and two Cray J90se machines) has kept SCD on track to providing teraflop computing for the atmospheric and related sciences.

With increased computing capability comes the need to manage an ever-greater volume of data. During this review period, we sought and acquired three additional StorageTek automated tape cartridge systems for our world-class Mass Storage System (MSS), bringing our total number of automated tape handlers to five. At end FY2000, the MSS contains over 275 terabytes (TB) of research data, and the additional tape handlers will allow us to continue providing outstanding data storage and delivery services for the foreseeable future.

Recognizing that data are the currency of scientific research, SCD expanded its data analysis capabilities with a new machine (dataproc) dedicated to such work for our scientific researchers. Moreover, the Data Support Section within SCD has worked hard to make more of its research data archive (including major sets of corrected data) available to researchers around the world. We have also teamed with UCAR's Unidata program to provide a dedicated machine for use in distributing regional weather data to university researchers around the country.

In another data-driven area, SCD has taken steps to create a leading-edge scientific visualization facility to serve this ever-growing component of data analysis and presentation. SCD's strong reputation in this developing technology has been nationally recognized. We intend to invest significantly in the development of this growing facility that may be used for a variety of purposes, including real-time model analysis and visualization, a collaboratory research environment, and access to the evolving NSF GRID. Construction is slated to begin in November 2000.

Finally, in April 2000, members of the division began the complex but important task of preparing a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the next generation of computing hardware to be acquired for NCAR. In preparing this RFP, the needs of both NCAR scientists and SCD technical personnel were melded together to create a unique document that will drive this important acquisition. Of particular note was the need to create an entirely new suite of computing system performance benchmarks, using various production codes (MM5, WRF, PCM, CCM, etc.) as a metric for determining what type of system (or systems) should be offered for NCAR's consideration. The RFP was released in draft form to all interested vendors in late August 2000, and we plan to release the final version at the end of October 2000.

As we report on our activities for this Annual Scientific Report, the staff and management of SCD look forward to even greater challenges and exciting opportunities in the coming months. As always, in all that we do, we seek to provide the finest in computing resources, teamed with a dedicated and talented staff to help advance our understanding of the Earth's complex climate system.

Al Kellie

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