Linux takes NOAA by storm

In what may be the first competitive government contract involving the Linux operating system, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last month tagged a Reston, Va.based company to provide a Linuxbased supercomputer that promises drastic improvements in the ability to forecast dang

In what may be the first competitive government contract involving the Linux operating system, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last month tagged a Reston, Va.-based company to provide a Linux-based supercomputer that promises drastic improvements in the ability to forecast dangerous weather patterns.

Under the terms of the $15 million contract, High Performance Technologies Inc. will install the first large-scale cluster of Compaq Computer Corp.'s XP1000 Alpha workstations running Linux at NOAA's Forecast Systems Laboratory in Boulder, Colo.

According to NOAA officials, the cluster will involve 277 workstations capable of crunching 300 billion arithmetic operations per second—a capability that is 20 times more powerful than the lab's current system. The cluster will represent one of the most powerful computers in the world, they said.

David Rhoades, director of High Performance Computing at HPTi, said the award is just the beginning of a significant swing toward the use of Linux. "There are fads and there are trends; we believe Linux is a trend," Rhoades said. "We also believe this is the supercomputing architecture of the future."

Industry sources said HPTi's Linux-based solution beat several industry giants in the supercomputing market, most likely including IBM Corp., Silicon Graphics Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Compaq's own supercomputing solution. However, because the post-award review still is under way, officials declined to comment on exactly who the other bidders were.

Linux is a Unix-like open-source operating system that enables developers to access and customize source code. The Linux kernel is composed of roughly 1.5 million lines of code that users can study and improve. Enhancements are distributed throughout the Linux community and subjected to a strict peer review process that examines the code changes for bugs and flaws.

According to officials, the new Linux-based supercomputer will be used to support the development of accurate weather models and will enable analysts to run different models simultaneously. NOAA also plans to use the system to develop ocean models and an upper-air observing system that will enhance the administration's ability to forecast current conditions.

The Forecast Systems Laboratory is one of the nation's leading weather technology centers, and it played a pivotal role in the effort to modernize the National Weather Service.

Officials at the lab expect the system to be installed by the first week of November and plan to upgrade it several times over the next 34 months.

NOAA's new supercomputer, however, is not the only system to run on Linux, according to Leslie Hart, a computer scientist at the Forecast Systems Laboratory. The FSL already runs two clusters of Intel Corp. Pentium III-based machines on Linux and supports a large number of the agency's desktop systems using the operating system.

"The focus [of this acquisition] was on price and performance," Hart said. "Benchmark results were used as a basis for the computational capabilities [of the system], and we were very happy with them."He added that officials have no concerns about the ability of Linux to support large-scale clusters. He noted that FSL is a computational group, as opposed to an organization that is concerned with office applications, and Linux gives the organization the tools it needs.

Gary Newgaard, vice president of Compaq's federal division, said the Linux/Alpha solution won what he termed a "very competitive" award because of its cost effectiveness and high performance. Newgaard said he is seeing high-end users within some agencies embracing the Linux solution because those users typically are early adopters. He added that it is hard to predict how long it will be before Linux makes its way down to the desktop in large volumes.

Alan Horwitz, advanced technology director at Compaq federal, said the company is offering Linux as an alternative solution because its customer base is asking for more options."Compaq is truly embracing Linux as an OS that people will want, particularly in a clustered environment," he said.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.