Award of the bridge contract is a major accomplishment in a multi-year effort that will significantly change the way NCEP utilizes high performance computing for research, development, and operations. Over the last decade, NCEP has developed, upgraded, and operated Numerical Weather Prediction, Climate Prediction, Ocean Forecasting, and other models on IBM Power systems. The current development system, Vapor, has a capacity of approximately 20 teraflops (TF). The teraflop, one trillion floating point operations per second, is a common measure of supercomputer processing speed. At this time, the world's fastest supercomputers operate in the range of 1000 to 8000 TF. Final development work is conducted on the backup NCEP operational supercomputer, Cirrus, and deployed into operations on the primary NCEP operational supercomputer, Stratus. Both Cirrus and Stratus have a capacity of 72 TF.
In 2008, NOAA published the High Performance Computing (HPC) Strategic Plan, outlining NOAA's plan to consolidate high performance computing requirements into an Environmental Security Architecture. In this architecture, NCEP development will be distributed across multiple NOAA HPC systems, including Gaea, a Cray system at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory with over 700 TF capacity, growing beyond a petaflop in early 2012 and Zeus, an SGI system with over 350 TF capacity that will be operating in the NOAA Environmental Security Computing Center (NESCC) in Fairmont, WV at the start of 2012. NCEP research and development work will be conducted alongside other NOAA R&D efforts, allowing more collaboration among NOAA line offices. At the same time, NOAA line offices will consolidate their HPC management efforts to increase the efficiency of HPC capability delivery to all NOAA. The integrated management approach will also allow NOAA to centralize HPC services and practices resulting in the ability of developers to move work to different HPC platforms with less effort.
Another major NCEP HPC milestone was reached in September with the transition of the NCEP High Performance Storage System (HPSS) from Gaithersburg, MD to NESCC. The transition, overseen by the NOAA Office of the Chief Informantion Officer (OCIO) High Performance Computing and Communications group and the NOAA integrated management team, included transition of NCEP operational archiving functions to the new HPSS system and the disassembly and move of the legacy NCEP archive system to the new facility. During the transition, 12 petabytes (PB) of data was transferred by truck from Gaithersburg to Fairmont. The new archive has a current capacity of over 30 petabytes and can grow to more than 50 PB. The archive will be utilized by NCEP and NOAA's Earth System Research Lab in Boulder, CO.