IBM p690 - Bluesky
NCAR’s Scientific Computing Division (SCD) took delivery of Phase 2 of the Advanced Research Computing System on October 2, 2002, adding a complete new IBM p690 system – Bluesky – to the SCD computational environment. Bluesky was powered up two days later at 2:40 p.m. MDT.
The Bluesky acquisition placed NCAR in the top 10 of the world's fastest supercomputing centers, according to the TOP500 ranking released on November 15, 2002.
The Bluesky system initially had a peak computational capacity exceeding 6.3 teraflops and 21 terabytes of disk. Combined with Blackforest and other SCD supercomputers, Bluesky brought the total peak computation capacity of NCAR's supercomputing facility to nearly 9 teraflops.
The Bluesky system introduced IBM's next-generation POWER4 processor. As with the POWER3-II processors in NCAR's Blackforest system, the POWER4 had a capability of 4 floating-point operations per clock tick but ran at a substantially faster clock speed of 1.3 gigahertz. Thus each POWER4 processor had a peak computation rate of 5.2 gigaflops. Bluesky had IBM's Colony high-speed interconnect for MPI.
The original Bluesky system comprised 38 p690 (aka Regatta-H Turbo) frames, each with 32 POWER4 processors. The system had a total of 1,216 POWER4 processors and a peak computation rate of 6.323 teraflops.
In the fall of 2003, Bluesky was augmented with an additional twelve 32-way p690 frames, adding 384 POWER4 processors. This brought the total number of Bluesky's POWER4 processors to 1,600 and the system's total peak computational rate to 8.32 teraflops. The augmentation also increased Bluesky's total disk capacity to 31 terabytes. With the upgrade, Bluesky had 50 POWER4 p690 frames, making it one of the largest systems of its type in the world.
The addition to the Bluesky system in 2003 increased both Community Computing and Climate Simulation Lab resources by a factor of two each. The 12 additional Bluesky frames were used to increase the computational capacity available to Community Climate System Model (CCSM) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) activities.
Bluesky served NCAR's scientists until March 5, 2007.