Australian Bureau of Meteorology goes Cray for AU$77m supercomputer

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has announced a contract with Seattle-based supercomputer manufacturers Cray to commission a new supercomputer for weather warnings and forecasts.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has signed a AU$77 million supercomputer contract with American manufacturer Cray.

The announcement was made on Tuesday morning with the BOM confirming that the new Cray XC-40 supercomputer is expected to be up and running mid-2016, replacing the ageing Sun Microsystems machine which was commissioned in 2013.

"The supercomputer is going to upgrade our capability to deliver forecasts more accurately, more frequently, and with greater precision," BOM CIO and deputy director information systems and services Lesley Seebeck told ZDNet.

"It is going to allow us to take on board a lot of the data that's coming in from new and upgraded data sources, and it's going to be able to provide far more resolution for the Australian public.

"By 2018 we're going to move into a 1.5km grid, we're going to get right down to fine resolution in the cities, verses the 4km we currently see," she said.

The Cray system is the ninth supercomputer to be commissioned by the bureau, with the XC-40 expected to deliver about 16-times the capacity of the current computer.

According to Seebeck, the new machine should see a lifespan of about three years, with a mid-life upgrade scheduled for 2018.

The Cray XC-40 supercomputer runs on a Linux-based operating system, specifically designed to run large, complex applications and scale efficiently to more than 500,000 processor cores.

According to April Neoh, regional sales manager for Cray, the specific model to be installed at the BOM will be comprised of 2,160 compute nodes, with 51,840 Intel Xeon cores, 276TB of RAM, and a usable storage of 4.3PB.

The BOM originally revealed its intentions to upgrade the current supercomputer in August last year, following an initiative that was announced as part of the 2014-2015 federal budget.