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Met Office powers up new supercomputer

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The Met Office has broken out its shiny new supercomputer and has started using the NEC beast to produce its weather forecasts.

The machine will run atmospheric models capable of producing forecasts five days ahead. It will also support the development of climate simulation and ocean-atmosphere models used in climate research in the UK, and will contribute to international collaborations on climate research such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The machine, a 128 processor NEC SX-8, doubles the power of each of the Met Office’s existing SX-6 systems, which have been in place since 2003.

NEC announced the SX-8 in October 2004, just one month after IBM announced its BlueGene machine. A fully fledged SX-8, with all 512 nodes, is capable of 65 teraflops, according to NEC's blurb.

The Met Office's machine has 32 nodes (128 processors), so is not quite so fearsome. Even so, each processor can chug through 16 billion calculations per-second, giving the whole machine more power than 8,000 average home PCs.

As part of NEC's deal with the Met Office, any new machine has to be tested at near-full capacity for 28 days in a 56-day trial period. The new machine romped through the tests, managing to get them out of the way without any time off, the Met Office said. ®

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