The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) has signed a four-year contract worth €80m (US$89m) with Atos to supply its BullSequana XH2000 supercomputer.
The decision was made following an international tender process where bidders were assessed against criteria including committed performance, implementation plan, flexibility and risks, quality of technical solution, environment impact, quality of service provision and support, and price.
ECMWF’s Council of Member States gave the deal the green light during its session in December 2019.
The new system will increase sustained performance by a factor of five compared with ECMWF’s existing high-performance computing facility.
Advances include increasing ensemble forecast horizontal resolution from a grid spacing of 18km to 10km, improving near-surface temperature and wind forecasts; increasing the ensemble forecast vertical resolution from 91 to 137 layers; and issuing extended-range forecasts daily rather than twice-weekly.
Increased computing capability will allow the center to continue investigative work toward the 5km ensemble called for by its 10-year strategy to 2025.
Gunther Tschabuschnig, convener of the ECMWF technical advisory committee subgroup responsible for selecting the computing facility, said, “One cannot overestimate the importance of accurate weather prediction. This has never been truer than in our current age, as the effects of climate change are increasingly felt. Individuals and societies need ever greater amounts of information to ensure they are prepared.
“Atos brings an impressive track record of success in this field, and its background in delivering advanced supercomputing solutions to some of the world’s best meteorological services will ensure we are placed on a firm footing for success.”
The Atos system is expected to be fitted in 2020 and become fully operational in 2021.