The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has taken delivery of a new IBM supercomputer that will advance research into severe weather and the future of Earth's climate. The supercomputer, known as a Power 575 Hydro-Cluster, will be used by scientists at NCAR and across the country to accelerate research into climate change, including future patterns of precipitation and drought around the world, changes to agriculture and growing seasons, and the complex influence of global warming on hurricanes.

Named "Bluefire," the new supercomputer has a peak speed of more than 76 teraflops (76 trillion floating-point operations per second). Based on the new POWER6 microprocessor, which has a clock speed of 4.7 gigahertz, the system consists of 4,064 processors, 12 terabytes of memory, and 150 terabytes of FAStT DS4800 disk storage. When fully operational, it is expected to rank among the 25 most powerful supercomputers in the world, more than tripling NCAR's sustained computing capacity. Researchers will rely on Bluefire to generate the climate simulations necessary for the next report on global warming by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC, which conducts detailed assessments under the auspices of the United Nations, was a recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Bluefire is the second phase of a system called the Integrated Computing Environment for Scientific Simulation (ICESS) at NCAR. After undergoing acceptance testing, it will begin full-scale operations in August. Bluefire, which replaces three supercomputers with an aggregate peak speed of 20 teraflops, will provide supercomputing support for researchers at NCAR and other organizations through 2011.

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