The Computational and Information Systems Laboratory (CISL) at NCAR will transfer its principal supercomputing operations from the NCAR Mesa Laboratory (ML) in Boulder, Colorado to the newly-constructed NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputer Center (NWSC), located near Cheyenne, Wyoming. The goals of this project are to maximize scientific productivity and efficiency during the transition, seamlessly integrate NWSC into NCAR's existing cyberinfrastructure (CI) and the broader NSF CI, and significantly increase the service and security of all supercomputing operations that NCAR provides for the research community. Meeting these goals requires careful and detailed planning by NCAR and CISL staff. To avoid disruptions, certain services will have to be duplicated at the NWSC and ML facilities during the transition. To hold down costs, NCAR plans to relocate some ML equipment to NWSC, while other equipment will continue in service at ML or be decommissioned. Activities funded under this award include staffing the new center and relocating equipment to Cheyenne. In addition, facility monitoring software will be purchased that would enable both the Boulder and Cheyenne facilities to be operated by a single team in Wyoming. The remainder of the award would fund the additional utility costs of running both systems concurrently during the transition and the purchase of servers and related equipment needed for the transfer of NCAR's considerable data holdings (~10s of petabytes) to the NWSC.
A smooth, well-executed transition to the NWSC will help to ensure uninterrupted support for the scientific community that depends upon this crucial computing facility. The demand for NCAR's current computing facility demonstrates the community's urgent need for petascale computers and associated cyberinfrastructure. A seamless operational transition will support this scientific momentum by enabling investigators to achieve dramatic improvements in model resolution, better physical process representations, longer simulation lengths, and better statistics for a wide range of important Earth System science applications.
The intellectual merit of this activity lies in the critical support it provides to the advancement of Earth System science and to the quality and quantity of new scientific research. The demand for use of NCARâ€™s computing facility in Boulder, Colorado, demonstrated the scientific communityâ€™s urgent need for petascale computers and associated cyberinfrastructure (CI). By ensuring that there was a smooth transition of operations and services from Boulder to the significantly more capable CI at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC), this project supported scientific momentum that will enable investigators to more quickly improve model resolution, enhance representations of physical processes, extend the length and value of computer simulations, and refine statistics used in a broad spectrum of Earth System science applications. Earth System science is a multidisciplinary approach to the study of the Earthâ€™s atmosphere, biosphere, oceans, sea ice, ice caps and glaciers, solar physics, and the relevant mathematical, computational, and social sciences. NCAR can proudly boast that the data center construction was completed 2 months ahead of schedule and under the established budget. The broader impacts of this work are diverse. The transition plan facilitated the development of distributed CI, which efficiently connects data, computers, and people with the goal of advancing science. The design of NWSC in terms of energy efficiency, sustainability, ease of maintenance and extensibility will influence the future design of HPC data centers world-wide. The center CI strategic focuses on data management and will inform designs for future distributed CI. The successful transition also contributed to the economic development of the State of Wyoming by positioning NWSC as an anchor and magnet for other high-technology enterprises. Already, subsequent to the start of the NWSC project in Cheyenne, Microsoft began construction nearby of a major data center. Finally, societal benefits include the establishment of an open-to the-public 4400 square foot visitor center will provide a venue for informing the public about pressing environmental research questions.