The Trusted Leader in High Performance Computing


NCAR Selects SGI to Focus on Advanced Climate Modeling and Research

January 11, 2016

Today, SGI announced that the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) chose an SGI supercomputer to facilitate the development of more advanced climate and weather models. The new SGI® ICE™ XA system, named "Cheyenne," will perform some of the world's most data intensive calculations for weather and climate modeling to improve the resolution and precision by orders of magnitude. As a result, NCAR's scientists will provide more actionable projections about the impact of climate change for specific regions and assist agencies throughout the world to develop more accurate weather predictions on a local and global scale.

NCAR is a research center focused on furthering the understanding of the Earth's atmosphere and related geospace systems. After implementing the Cheyenne supercomputer, NCAR scientists will:

  • Better understand how particular regions across the globe will be impacted by rising sea levels and changing patterns of storms, precipitation, and temperature.
  • Will also be able to predict climate patterns over the next ten years or further into the future to assess drought risk or the extent of melting sea ice in the Arctic.
  • NCAR research will lead to improved predictions of severe atmospheric events, such as hour-by-hour risks associated with thunderstorm outbreaks to the timing of the 11-year solar cycle and its potential impacts on GPS and other sensitive technologies.

"Cheyenne" hydrology; Photo courtesy of NCAR

Cheyenne will be a critical tool for researchers across the country studying seismic activity, air quality, wildfires, and other important geoscience topics. The Cheyenne 5.34 petaflop system can process 5.34 quadrillion calculations per second. The entire system:

  • Contains a modular design enabling combinations of processors and accelerators
  • Includes future generation Intel® Xeon® processors with SGI E-cell warm water cooled technology for high density and lower power consumption
  • Features a high-performance enhanced hypercube interconnect based on Mellanox EDR InfiniBand and 20 Petabytes of High Performance Storage from Data Direct Networks (DDN)
  • Incorporates SGI HPC Software including SGI Performance Suite to deliver parallel application performance and SGI Management Suite to enable scalable provisioning, power management, health management, and remote system management
  • Is capable of more than 2.5 times the amount of scientific computing performed by Yellowstone, the current NCAR supercomputer
  • Will be operational in early 2017

The system is highly flexible, configurable and interoperates with existing file systems to handle the vast amounts of data and provides increasingly detailed simulations. Even with its increased power, Cheyenne will be three times more energy efficient (in floating point operations per second, or flops, per watt) than Yellowstone, its predecessor, which is itself highly efficient. For more information, please visit:

Read more on the SGI press release and the NCAR press release.

Photo courtesy of NCAR