ECMWF signs contract with Atos for new supercomputer

ECMWF has signed a four-year con­tract worth over 80 mil­li­on euros with Atos for the sup­ply of its Bull­Se­qua­na XH2000 super­com­pu­ter.

ECMWF’s Coun­cil of Mem­ber Sta­tes gave the Cent­re the green light for the deal during its ses­si­on in Decem­ber 2019.

The decisi­on was taken after an inter­na­tio­nal ten­der pro­cess in which bid­ders were asses­sed against cri­te­ria inclu­ding com­mit­ted per­for­mance, imple­men­ta­ti­on plan, fle­xi­bi­li­ty and risks, qua­li­ty of tech­ni­cal solu­ti­on, envi­ron­men­tal impact, qua­li­ty of ser­vice pro­vi­si­on and sup­port, and pri­ce.

The new sys­tem will deli­ver an incre­a­se in sus­tai­ned per­for­mance by a fac­tor of about five com­pa­red to ECMWF’s cur­rent high-per­for­mance com­pu­ting faci­li­ty.

This will enab­le a ran­ge of advan­ces:

  • incre­a­sing the ensem­ble fore­cast hori­zon­tal reso­lu­ti­on from a grid spa­cing of 18 km to about 10 km, which is expec­ted to signi­fi­cant­ly impro­ve fore­casts of near-sur­face tem­pe­ra­tures and winds
  • incre­a­sing the ensem­ble fore­cast ver­ti­cal reso­lu­ti­on from 91 lay­ers to 137 lay­ers, in line with the cur­rent high-reso­lu­ti­on fore­cast
  • issuing exten­ded-ran­ge fore­casts dai­ly rather than twice-wee­kly.

The incre­a­sed com­pu­ting capa­bi­li­ty will also enab­le the Cent­re to con­ti­nue inves­ti­ga­ti­ve work towards the 5 km ensem­ble cal­led for by its ten-year Stra­te­gy to 2025, and in the field of machi­ne lear­ning in nume­ri­cal wea­ther pre­dic­tion.

Firm footing for success”

Gün­ther Tscha­busch­nig, Con­ve­ner of the ECMWF Tech­ni­cal Advi­so­ry Com­mit­tee sub­group respon­si­ble for selec­ting the Centre’s high-per­for­mance com­pu­ting faci­li­ty, empha­sis­ed the bene­fits of the deal with Atos for socie­ty.

One can­not over­esti­ma­te the impor­t­ance of accu­ra­te wea­ther pre­dic­tion. This has never been tru­er than in our cur­rent age, as the effects of cli­ma­te chan­ge are incre­a­singly felt. Indi­vi­du­als and socie­ties need ever grea­ter amounts of infor­ma­ti­on to ensu­re they are pre­pa­red,” he said.

Atos brings an impres­si­ve track record of suc­cess in this field, and its back­ground in deli­vering advan­ced super­com­pu­ting solu­ti­ons to some of the world’s best meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal ser­vices will ensu­re we are pla­ced on a firm foo­ting for suc­cess.”

The Atos sys­tem will be hos­ted in the new ECMWF data cent­re cur­r­ent­ly being deve­lo­ped by the Ita­li­an Government and the Regio­ne Emi­lia Roma­gna in Bolo­gna, Ita­ly. It is expec­ted to be fit­ted in 2020 and to beco­me ful­ly ope­ra­tio­nal in 2021.

Bolo­gna is also the venue of an ECMWF work­shop on high-per­for­mance com­pu­ting in meteo­ro­lo­gy in Sep­tem­ber 2020, for which regis­tra­ti­on and abs­tract sub­mis­si­on is now open. For more infor­ma­ti­on on this high-pro­fi­le bien­ni­al event, visit the work­shop page on the ECMWF web­site.

For more infor­ma­ti­on on the super­com­pu­ter con­tract with Atos, see the PDF icon Atos–ECMWF press release.