Dell lands $5.1 million NASA contract for high-performance climate computing

Summary:NASA has offered Dell a $5.1 million contract to install high-performance computers in its Center for Climate Simulation in Greenbelt, Md.

NASA has offered Dell a $5.1 million contract to install high-performance computers in its Center for Climate Simulation in Greenbelt, Md.

The NCCS, which is located at Goddard Space Flight Center, will receive Dell's PowerEdge C6100 servers tailored for high-performance computing, or HPC.

NASA scientists will use the computers to conduct simulation modeling and data analysis in an effort to better understand and predict global climate change.

Dell says the new servers will double the NCCS' computational capabilities to more than 300 trillion calculations per second, allowing scientists to fine-tune global model resolutions to capture smaller-scale features in the atmosphere and oceans.

One of NASA's newest centers, the NCCS was announced only two weeks ago.

NASA says the center more than doubles the computing capacity available at Goddard a year ago, thanks to elements such as:

  • A 15,000-processor "Discover" supercomputer with a peak performance of nearly 160 trillion operations per second.
  • A 17 by 6 ft. multi-screen visualization wall for displaying high-definition movies of simulation results and interactive data visualizations.
  • An analysis system with dedicated software tools for visualization, workflow management, and diagnostics.
  • A data management system for accessing and locating data within NCCS' massive multi-petabyte archive.
  • An Earth System Grid node for distributing simulation data from NASA's contributions to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC.

The center was the recipient of about $5.5 million from the stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Goddard itself is home to one of the largest contingents of Earth scientists in the world, and also includes NASA's Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO) and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).

Photo: NASA's Discover supercomputer. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Pat Izzo

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Topics: Innovation


Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. He is also the former editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation. He writes about business, technology and design now but used to cover finance, fashion and culture. He was an intern at Money, Men's Vogue, Popular Mechanics and the New York Daily Ne... Full Bio

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