October 15, 2012
The National Science Foundation (NSF) dedicated the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC), its first facility in decades in Wyoming and one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, as part of dedication ceremonies held in Cheyenne today.
“The NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center will offer researchers the opportunity to develop, access and share complex models and data at incredibly powerful speeds,” said NSF Director Subra Suresh. “This is the latest example of NSF’s unique ability to identify challenges early and make sure that the best tools are in place to support the science and engineering research communities.”
The NWSC will be managed by NSF’s National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The supercomputer, known as “Yellowstone,” has the ability to work at 1.5 petaflops–equal to 1.5 quadrillion (a million billion) mathematical operations per second. Its speed is comparable to 7 billion people (the world population) each simultaneously conducting 200,000 calculations a second.
Yellowstone’s capabilities will improve scientific understanding of climate change, severe weather, air quality, and other atmospheric and geosciences research. It allows researchers to address research challenges with software, data storage and management, and data analysis and visualization.
Based in Cheyenne, the NWSC is located on a 24-acre site. It houses high-performance computers, mass storage (data archival) systems, and required mechanical and electrical infrastructure. It is a LEED-certified building, showcasing sustainable technologies as well as energy-efficient design and operation. A main component is a public visitor center that illustrates the types of computational science research that will be carried out by scientists across the nation and explains the impact of that research.
Wyoming is part of NSF’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), which allows the agency to strengthen research and education in science and engineering throughout the United States and improve R&D capacity and competitiveness.
In addition to NSF Director Suresh, the dedication ceremony included Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research President Thomas Bogdan, NCAR Director Roger Wakimoto, University of Wyoming Vice President for Research Bill Gern and NSF’s Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences Division Director Michael Morgan.
The NWSC, funded by NSF with additional support from the state of Wyoming and a broad public-private consortium, will be a mainstay of U.S. geoscience computing for decades to come. Its extraordinary computing power will enable scientists to capture many aspects of our planet’s workings in unprecedented detail. The results will improve forecasting of hurricanes, tornadoes, and other severe storms; map critical supplies of water; boost predictions of wildfire behavior; help protect society from solar disruptions; and address many other concerns.