New Cray aids Arctic research

The Arctic Region Supercomputing Center (ARSC) has begun using a new Cray Inc. supercomputer in one of the first projects to investigate how changes in the Arctic may influence world climate.

The Cray SV1ex system, part of a $3 million contract announced in September, replaces the center's Cray SV1 supercomputer and offers faster clock speeds and more memory. The ARSC is on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus.

The new supercomputer will be used to apply a global climate model that simulates the atmospheric response to changes in sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. Researchers traditionally study the tropics for clues to global weather patterns, but this project is one of the first to examine how changes in the Arctic might affect the world's climate.

The Cray SV1ex product line is the technological forerunner of the Cray SV2 supercomputer, due out in the second half of 2002. Each Cray SV1ex processor has a peak performance of 2 gigaflops, or 2 billion calculations per second.

Frank Williams, ARSC director, said the new system also is being used to study atmospheric, environmental and geophysical problems unique to the higher latitudes.

ARSC's government and academic researchers have found the new supercomputer's improved clock speed and high-speed cache memory to be especially useful in running applications in ocean modeling, climatology and space physics, Williams said.

ARSC provides high-performance computational, visualization, networking and data storage resources for researchers within the Defense Department, the University of Alaska Fairbanks and others.

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