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Break-through values achieved for databases, climate computing and grid technologies


High-tech in Earth System Science at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany

Record-breaking high-tech has been successfully employed in Earth System Science at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M) in Hamburg, Germany.

- The largest database in the world under the free Linux operating system has been installed in Hamburg by the Wold Data Centre for Climate (WDCC) and the German Climate Computing Centre (DKRZ) . This is confirmed in the international ranking list of the world’s largest databases published by the Winter Corporation in September. NEC installed the database system at the DKRZ three years ago in conjunction with a 1.5 teraflop NEC SX-6 series vector supercomputer, which is the fastest supercomputer for climate research in Europe.

- Computing with highest performance has successfully been done using a powerful new CRAY XT3TM supercomputer. The complex global Earth System model ECHAM of the MPI-M ran substantially faster, and at higher resolution, than it has ever been run before. Thousands of processors ran the application at a record speed of 1.4 trillion calculations per second (teraflops).

- Optimization and improvement of scalability of the ECHAM model code is done in co-operation with SUN Microsystems using "GRID"-technology. Only such GRID-enabled environments seem to have the potential to deal successfully with the vast amounts of data, which are produced by MPI-M on a routine base and stored in the WDCC.
Earth System and climate science deals with complex phenomena in the atmosphere, the ocean, and on land surfaces, including physical, chemical and biological processes within and feedback-loops between these areas. Modelling such phenomena on extremely powerful computers is a crucial element of Earth System science, since the Earth itself is not available for experiment. Such model simulations would not be possible without strong links into the IT-industry and strong partners such as computer and data centres. Co-operations like these have recently resulted in world record-breaking achievements.

WDCC database

The WDCC database at the DKRZ has an almost inconceivable volume of 220 terabytes and is about twice the size of the database of a well known search engine. The Model and Data Group at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (M&D/MPI-M) and the German Climate Computing Centre (DKRZ) operate the WDCC of the International Council for Science. The WDCC’s database contains the latest climate research data on the state of the climate and anticipated climatic changes. 115 terabytes of storage - corresponding to around 24,500 DVDs - are exclusively dedicated to simulation data for the new report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is due to be published in 2007.

High performance with Cray computers

MPI-M estimates that a Cray XT3 would make it possible to complete their next-generation IPCC assessment runs in about the same real time as today, despite requiring 120 times more computation. This advance promises to significantly improve the scale and scope of the analysis researchers will be able to submit for the next assessment report of the IPCC. The newest findings have recently been published (see ).


"GRID"-technology is another field for intense research cooperation. MPI-M provided its ECHAM code to Sun Microsystems to improve optimization and scalability with the Solaris x64 Operating System. Using the Sun Studio Development Tools, Sun benchmarked the code on a "Solarisx64" based cluster. Preliminary runs show a nearly linear scaling on 8 and 16 "SunFire Dual Core Opteron" nodes. In cooperation with MPI-M, Sun intends to continue the optimization of the ECHAM code for much higher numbers of nodes. Equally important for this joint venture between industry and public research is the GRID optimization and adaptation of the data evaluation software environment of MPI-M necessary for advanced Earth System modeling.


Reinhard Budich
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
Phone: +49 40 41173 369

Dr. Michael Lautenschlager
Model & Data Group
Phone: +49 40 41173 297

Dr. Joachim Biercamp
German Climate Computing Centre
Phone: +49 40 41173 314

Dr. Jörg Stadler
NEC High Performance Computing Europe GmbH
Phone: +49 711 780550

Steve Conway
CRAY Computers
Phone: mobile +1 651 592 7441

Stefan Kraemer
SUN Microsystems
Phone: +49 2102 4511616

Dr. Annette Kirk | idw
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