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April 20, 2023 | Tom Ballard

ORNL launching new supercomputer dedicated to climate science research

The new system is the fifth installed at ORNL since the Department of Energy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration entered into a strategic partnership in 2009.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is launching a new supercomputer dedicated to climate science research. The new system is the fifth supercomputer to be installed and run by the lab’s National Climate-Computing Research Center (NCRC).

Established in 2009 as part of a strategic partnership between NOAA and the U.S. Department of Energy, the NCRC is responsible for the procurement, installation, testing, and operation of several supercomputers dedicated to climate modeling and simulations. The goal of the partnership is to increase NOAA’s climate modeling capabilities to further critical climate research. To that end, the NCRC has installed a series of increasingly powerful computers since 2010, each of them formally named Gaea. The latest system, also referred to as C5, is an HPE Cray machine with over 10 petaflops — or 10 million billion calculations per second — of peak theoretical performance — almost double the power of the two previous systems combined.

C5 is one of three NOAA computers operating at ORNL. Typically, the NCRC only operates two supercomputers at a time for NOAA users. They are replaced on a rotating schedule to provide NOAA users with uninterrupted access to more powerful machines while also minimizing operational and maintenance costs.

Originally scheduled to arrive in the fall of 2021, supply chain issues delayed C5’s delivery and installation by several months.

More information can be found in this recent ORNL news release.

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