CISL Seminar: NWSC-3 HPC, PFS, and Facility Project

02/17/2021 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm

Recording from February 17, 2021

Irfan Elahi, Bill Anderson, Brian Vanderwende, Michael Kercher


NCAR has announced that Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) will build the next supercomputer to be installed at the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  The HPE Cray EX cluster will be delivered in the fall of 2021 and will become operational in early 2022. The 19.87-petaflops system, which NCAR plans to name soon, is expected to deliver about 3.5 times the scientific throughput of the current Cheyenne supercomputer. One of the most innovative features of the new system is its use of accelerated computing with NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core graphics processing units (GPUs). The new system will get 20% of its sustained computing capability from GPUs, with the remainder coming from traditional central processing units (CPUs).

GPUs offer significant advantages over CPUs for Earth system research. They are far more powerful and energy-efficient than CPUs, with up to six times the performance (as measured by floating-point operations) per watt of energy than CPUs. Adaption of GPU computing will also position the NWSC for the eventual use of exascale computing, which is many times faster than the most advanced systems today.

GPU computing is also more effective for newly developed artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques because GPUs can perform large numbers of computations simultaneously on one accelerator, resulting in lower power usage and less hardware for the same number of parallel operations. GPUs have less onboard memory than CPUs, but the ones being used in NWSC-3 are top-of-the-line in terms of both memory and number of cores. This will allow researchers to load more data and train larger machine learning models than previously possible. 



Irfan Elahi oversees the High-Performance Computing Division (HPCD), which is responsible for systems engineering, administration, management, NWSC facility operations, and advanced user support for the computational and storage resources, and for the services that CISL, NCAR’s Computational Information Systems Laboratory, provides to NCAR and UCAR member institutions. HPCD provides resources and services for computation, data analysis, data post-processing, visualization, and large-scale data sharing. Irfan has more than 30 years of experience in architecting, deploying, and managing High-Performance Computing (HPC) and storage resources.

Bill Anderson is a systems engineer in CISL’s HPCD. He has over 20 years of experience in HPC and has an interest in harnessing novel compute and storage technologies to meet the needs of NCAR's scientific community. He holds a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's degree in computer science.

Brian Vanderwende is an HPC user support consultant in CISL’s HPCD. As a member of the Consulting Services Group for over five years, he has become a primary architect and maintainer of the Cheyenne user environment and software stack. Brian completed his PhD work in high-resolution wind farm modeling using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model.

Michael Kercher is the Plant Manager and Computer Room Engineer at the NWSC and works with UCAR and NCAR system administrator teams to deploy small information technology systems and large HPC and storage systems, verifying that there is adequate space, cooling, and power available for the incoming equipment. Kercher also manages the Infrastructure Support Group in Cheyenne, Wyoming, or ISGC, to ensure that the NWSC facility systems are operating at their peak performance and that all associated facility maintenance is being performed either in-house or by a third-party vendor. Kercher also assists in managing all large facility expansion work, defining the statement of work, and managing associated contracts. He holds a Master Electrician License in Wyoming, a bachelor’s degree in Operation Management, and an MBA with a focus in data analytics.

February 17, 2021
1-2pm MT

Email Taysia ( for link to live stream.