NOAA 2000-070
Contact: Barbara McGehan


A $34 million contract has been awarded to Raytheon Company, Garland, Texas by the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for a new high performance computing system to be used to improve understanding of weather and climate, Commerce Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced today. The total value of the contract, inclusive of all options, is approximately $67 million.

The high performance computing system will be provided to NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J., a leader in the field of climate and weather research and modeling.

"The potential economic benefit is enormous. This new weather computer system should improve hurricane predictions and other seasonal forecasts, reduce costs, and help us gain more insight about our weather and climate," said Commerce Secretary Mineta.

The Raytheon system will help GFDL achieve it's goal of expanding the scientific understanding of the physical processes that govern the behavior of the atmosphere and the oceans as complex fluid systems. The systems are modeled mathematically and studied using complex computer simulations.

Among the research objectives the HPCS will be used for are to develop a more advanced GFDL Hurricane Prediction System to improve track forecasting accuracy, improved prediction of wind and precipitation fields, storm surge, and changes in storm intensity. In addition, it will be used in improving regional projections of climate change, investigating the effects of deep ocean circulation on model behavior, and will analyze the processes controlling the El Niño-Southern-Oscillation events.

"NOAA's GFDL needs this new computing power to make progress in climate and weather forecasting and to support research collaborations within NOAA and with other government agencies," said D. James Baker, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

"GFDL's primary objective with this procurement is to acquire balanced, comprehensive computing capabilities. This means, in addition to the high-performance computing, we need the capabilities for data management and archiving, analysis and visualization of model results, and networking and telecommunications in order to advance the lab's research programs," said Bruce Ross, deputy director of GFDL.

Each component of the HPCS plays a critical role in maintaining the flow of information through GFDL's model simulations, analyses, visualizations, and ultimately dissemination of knowledge to the research community.

The new computing system will be able to process GFDL's computational workload at least four times as fast as the system currently used by GFDL. It also has built-in redundancy, ensuring that the GFDL scientists will have virtually continuous access to these high-performance resources.

Silicon Graphics, Incorporated of Mountain View, Calif., will develop the computational hardware and supporting software and StorageTek of Louisville, Colo., will supply the equipment for GFDL's data archive.

The HPCS is comprised of a Large-Scale Cluster and an analysis cluster
consisting of sgi Origin 3800 nodes. The Analysis Cluster nodes also serve GFDL's data archive, which is stored in three robotic tape libraries provided by StorageTek and is expected to reach 2 petabytes (2,000,000 gigabytes) in size by September 2003.

The period covered under the contract, FY2000-2006, will be divided into a four-year $34.35 million base contract, followed by a three-year $32.7 million contract option period. During the base contract period, the contract will be renewed each year subject to the availability of funds.

"Acquisition of this high performance computing system is a great advance for NOAA Research and for GFDL's climate modeling program and the advances it will bring," Baker said.