SCD Director's message
SCD completed Fiscal Year 2002 having achieved significant progress, innovation,
and enhanced services.
substantial progress in building on the
foundation of last year's supercomputing hardware acquisitions, more
than doubling the size and computational capability of blackforest,
our main production system.
We made innovations in our
networking and mass storage infrastructure, resulting in greater
reliability and data integrity for our users.
And perhaps most important, we enhanced services in data analysis, visualization, web-based
utilities, and irreplaceable atmospheric and oceanographic research
data -- all of which contributed to the advancement of our community's research
SCD has made great strides in realizing the goals laid out
in our strategic plans, and we are moving toward a broad
user-centric orientation that maximizes user productivity.
This annual scientific report documents a wide range of activities
supporting NCAR's scientific mission. Two merit special attention: the
Phase I upgrade of blackforest (NCAR's Advanced Research Computing
System, ARCS), and the successful negotiation, staffing, and progress made
on the Earth System Modeling Framework (ESMF) project.
Phase I ARCS
Early in FY2002, SCD oversaw expansion of the IBM SP cluster system
named blackforest, more than doubling its size to 1,308 POWER3 processors.
The upgraded system went into production in December 2001, and is
accelerating research in global and regional climate change, droughts,
short and long-range weather prediction and warnings, wildland fires,
turbulence, atmospheric chemistry, space weather, and other critical areas.
Shortly after the blackforest upgrade, SCD took delivery of a new
IBM p690 system with 16 POWER4 processors. This machine was used for testing
and system development in preparation for a large IBM Cluster 1600
system scheduled for delivery in October 2002. To support the
increasing number of high-performance systems in our Computer Room, we improved space utilization and made
significant enhancements to the room's electrical power distribution, air
chilling, and airflow handling.
Multi-institutional collaboration on the Earth System Modeling
The Earth System Modeling Framework (ESMF) project is building
software infrastructure for the nation's leading climate, weather,
and data-assimilation applications. Collaborators include:
- SCD, the Climate and Global Dynamics Division,
and the Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division (NCAR)
- The Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
- The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of
- Argonne National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory (Department of Energy)
- The Data Assimilation Office and the NASA Season-to-Interannual Prediction Project (Goddard Space Flight Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
three-year project is being funded by NASA's Earth Science
Technology Office at a level of $9,800,000. Of this, $2,600,000 will
go to NCAR SCD for implementing the core software.
In FY2002, the ESMF
collaboration produced an exhaustive requirements specification, an
architecture document, and a synthetic validation suite. An initial
prototype of the framework will be available in FY2003.
SCD is proud
to be the home of the implementation team for this landmark effort,
and looks forward to its success and growth.
Detailed information about ESMF is provided in
this report and at
the ESMF website.
Many other notable achievements
While the preceding accomplishments rank high on our list of
achievements, SCD staff have had a remarkable year making
improvements to better serve our atmospheric science community.
- SCD implemented a new "class of service" for Mass Storage
System (MSS) files that allows the owner of an MSS file to select new file
duplication options. A user can now elect to have a
single copy of an MSS file created rather than two. As the number of
MSS files written using this attribute increases, the total amount
of data stored in the MSS will decrease proportionally -- freeing up
additional space within the MSS. Moreover, those files are now
written directly to tape media, reducing the cost of having to
later migrate those files from disk farm to tape.
- NCAR's new Visualization Lab and Access Grid, located at the
Mesa Lab and managed by SCD, became fully operational in
FY2002. It has become an indispensable resource for distance
collaboration; distributed meetings, presentations, and
training; and educational events. This new resource has enabled our
community to accelerate its interactions in a remarkable way, while
at the same time reducing travel burdens of cost and time. There are
intangible benefits as well: NCAR is an active and visible player
"on the Grid," and we're positioned to proliferate the technology
throughout our organization and into the community.
- In preparation for Phase II of the ARCS installation, which
will occur in early FY2003, SCD developed and implemented plans to augment the Computer Room infrastructure. Operation of the
hardware for this next ARCS phase will double our electricity
consumption from 300 kW to over 600 kW and generate sufficient heat
to require the addition of a new 250-ton chiller. Augmenting both
the electrical power and air handling for this upgrade was
ongoing during FY2002, and proceeded in parallel with production computing activities -- without disrupting
- Refinements to consulting, documentation, and education and
training activities provide valuable assistance to our user
community in all phases of program development, helping to mitigate
problems with user applications and system software
and hardware. Our evolving websites and outreach publications
continue to highlight the central role SCD plays in furthering the
science performed at NCAR.
As you read through this report of SCD's accomplishments, I hope
you share our sense of excitement and progress as we move forward.
We will continue to provide leadership in those areas that directly
improve NCAR's ability to advance our scientific community's research
agendas. We look forward to the challenge and enthusiastically embrace
-- Al Kellie