Mellanox accelerates next-gen European supercomputer

Mellanox, a supplier of high-performance, end-to-end smart interconnect solutions for data centre servers and storage systems, will be playing a critical role in the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts’ (ECMWF) next-generation supercomputer. 

Mellanox recently announced that the ECMWF has selected the 200 GB HDR InfiniBand to accelerate its new world-leading supercomputer. As a result, this will increase the ECMWF’s weather and climate research compute power by five times, enabling enhanced and far more accurate forecasts and predictions.

“We require the best supercomputing power and the best technologies available for our numerical weather prediction activities,” said Dr Florence Rabier, director general at the ECMWF. “With the new supercomputing capabilities, we will now be able to run higher-resolution forecasts in under an hour and enable much-improved weather forecasts.”

The ECMWF is an independent intergovernmental organisation based in Reading in the UK and supported by 34 member and cooperating states across Europe. It holds the largest archive of numerical weather prediction data in the world. The ECMWF has signed a four-year deal with Atos, a European multinational information technology service and consulting company, to deploy and support a new BullSequana XH2000 system. Atos has partnered with Mellanox to implement Mellanox’s HDR InfiniBand solution. 

Marcel Fouché, Networking and Storage General Manager at value-added distributor Networks Unlimited Africa, which distributes Mellanox’ intelligent interconnect solutions throughout the continent, comments, “The new supercomputer will be one of the world’s most powerful meteorological machines, supporting weather forecasting and prediction researchers from over 30 countries across Europe”. 

“It is interesting to note that the technological advantages of InfiniBand for climate research and weather forecasting applications have also been used by other global meteorological service agencies to accelerate their supercomputing platforms, including Meteo France, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, China Meteorological Administration and Beijing Meteorological Service, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in the US.”

The system will be delivered and installed at the new ECMWF data centre in Bologna, Italy in 2020, with service commencing in 2021. The new platform, using HDR InfiniBand, will enable running nearly two times higher-resolution probabilistic weather forecasts in under an hour. When compared to the ECMWF’s first supercomputer, the latest BullSequana model will be about 250 million times more powerful than the original

“This ECMWF new-generation supercomputer continues in a proud tradition of weather prediction service that began with its establishment more than 40 years ago. As factors such as global warming continue to have an impact on global weather systems, it becomes even more important to be able to monitor and predict severe weather phenomena, thereby enabling global citizens to take proactive measures to protect lives and property,” concludes Fouché. 

Staff writer