At the beginning of October the new Cluster Mistral was introduced at the German Climate Computer Centre (DKRZ) in Hamburg. This was accompanied by three days of workshops and training and brought a whole community together, which work around one of the fastest computers in Germany.
Mistral is designed to allow the german climate community to perform their runs with the state of the art climate models they use for their work. It is located in the top floor of the DKRZ and is cooled by warm water. Its specification is impressive, as it has not only more than 37,000 cores, but also an impressive storage. The latter is a requirement of the community, as a huge amount of data has to be processed in order to analyse the outcome of the data. As such it is one of the largest storage systems connected to a super computer in the world.
The workshops allowed to get in contact with the hosts of mistral and deliver feedback on their services. A training opened the door to better understand how to effectively handle the system to get the best performance for the models. And of course was the highlight a visit of the server room, were Mistral stands side by side with its predecessor and now defunct Blizzard.
My personal interaction with the system will be given as it is located more or less in my backyard. My work is nowadays associated with complex models, which will be in the future mainly run on that machine. As I work mainly in data analysis, Mistral forms part of my day-to-day work, as I have to access the storage system quite often. So I am happy to have this new machine now available, as every scientists loves a new toy.
The future will shine as well, as Mistral will get a second stage in 2016, which more or less double the performance of the system. And as always, the successor of Mistral is also in planning mode, as the time to design and build such a machine needs several years.
Super computer are a very important tool in modern science. As models are our modern laboratories, which allow us to experiment with the Earth system, it is essential to get from time to time an upgrade to these systems. These computers are a hub of a large community and all depend directly and indirectly on a well running machine. As climate science is nowadays mainly a computer science, it is good to see that the progress in models is accompanied with progress in computer technology.