Cray scores $23m contract with German weather service

The deal will see Cray provide two super-computers to Germany's National Meteorological Service, along with two data storage units.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor
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Cray XC30 super-computer. Credit: Cray

Super-computing specialists Cray announced today that it has been awarded a $23 million contract to offer super-computers to Germany's National Meteorological Service, the Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD).

In the deal, the DWD will receive two Cray XC30 supercomputers, and two Cray Sonexion 1600 storage systems.

The firm said in a statement that researchers and scientists at the DWD will be able to take advantage of the "petascale computing resources" of the Cray XC30 machines -- one used for research, the other for backup. The machines will be used to produce "higher resolution and more accurate global and regional weather forecasts to help fulfill the organization's wide array of weather responsibilities, such as the meteorological safeguarding of aviation and shipping, and the issuance of official warnings of weather occurrences that could become a danger for public safety."

It's a significant contract for Cray -- a firm which is strong in its own right and brand name -- but often overshadowed by IBM and others. In November, Cray took the crown as the provider of the world's fastest supercomputer, the Cray Titan, hitting speeds of 17.59 Petaflops per second.

$23 million may not sound like a lot in the grand scheme of high-performance computing -- like the television market: where the profits are high but the rate of replacement is extremely low -- but for Cray, it's quite a big deal.

Cray's Q3 2012 results showed the firm reported a net loss of $5.2 million, compared to a $12.2 million loss on the same quarter a year ago; although the firm's gross profit margin increased by 4 percentage points to 48 percent on Q3 2011.

That $23 million will therefore go quite some way.

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