Blue Ice, a new supercomputer now operational at Wales’ Technium Pembrokeshire in The Mike Barnsley Centre for Research, enables researchers to more quickly understand the impact of environmental changes past, present and future - such as melting glaciers, melting ice sheets and rising sea-levels - on today’s World. OCF, the UK’s premier High Performance Computing integrator, is responsible for the overall design, implementation and ongoing support of the Blue Ice supercomputer.
Historical tidal records have shown that over the 20th century, global sea level has risen by 0.15 m and forecasts predict a further rise of between 0.09 and 0.88 m over the 21st century. It is believed that 20-30 per cent of the last century’s sea level rise came from the melt of glaciers.
Using the power of Blue Ice, researchers can now create simulation models on how melting glaciers and ice-sheets will impact society and the environment. The vast volumes of data generated by Blue Ice can be graphically displayed on large visualization screens, leading to a better interpretation of results.
Professor Tavi Murray, the center’s Scientific Director and globally renowned for her work on the impact of climate change and rising sea-levels, comments: “As one of the most rapidly changing parts of the cryosphere, and with many glaciers experiencing rapid thinning, time is of the essence in discovering the effects of these potentially devastating environmental changes. The development of methods that address these issues is imperative for solving the climate change/sea level question. Blue Ice will help us do that.”
OCF’s unique design consists of 80 IBM HS21 Blades running dual quad core processors – totaling 720 cores and 8 CELL processor blades with Voltaire Infiniband interconnect. In addition, 5 DCV workstations and 4 CUBE displays provide visualization capabilities to the facility. There is 10TB of IBM DS4700 storage with IBM GPFS (General Parallel File System) a high-performance shared-disk file system that can provide fast, reliable data access from all nodes in a homogenous or heterogeneous cluster.
Ongoing support, using OCF’s Cluster Management and Support Service, enables the Technium to focus all of its available IT resources to non-cluster related queries and user issues.
The service provides remote and next day on-site support. Using the remote support, the cluster can also be accessed and day-to-day management tasks can be performed instantly by OCF - such as adding new users and monitoring performance of the overall system. If, for example, updates to the system are required this can also been completed remotely by OCF.