RealTime IT News

Cray Tapped for Korean Supercomputer

Supercomputer maker Cray finalized a deal with the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) for a five year $43.2 million contract, the company said Tuesday.

KMA is a leading weather research and forecasting center and together with Cray now plans to establish an Earth System Research Center for advanced atmospheric modeling in the East Asia Pacific region. The supercomputer will be used to improve the forecast predication accuracy of severe weather phenomena. Seattle-based Cray beat out HP, IBM, and NEC for the deal.

According to Cray, KMA made its decision based on the performance of their weather prediction applications on the Cray X1 and its successor system, the Cray X1E. Cray's also proposed a storage area network (SAN) solution, which was also one of the criteria KMA used to make its decision.

"The global weather-environmental community has extremely demanding requirements for supercomputer capability and reliability, and KMA is one of the premier sites in this community," Cray Chairman and CEO Jim Rottsolk said in a statement. "This win demonstrates that Cray is renewing its leadership in the weather-environmental market by offering systems purpose-built for the most challenging applications."

Later this year, Cray will deliver the first phase of the contract with a Cray X1 installation running at a peak capacity of two teraflops . In 2005 the system is scheduled for an upgrade with the introduction of Cray's forthcoming X1E technology.

Cray lost the title of the world's fastest supercomputer at the end of 2001 to the Japanese Earth Simulator, which produces a whopping 35.86 teraflops. A supercomputer called Thunder recently reported a 19.94 teraflop capacity. The system, based at the U.S. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, runs Linux using a large cache of Intel Itanium 2 processors.

Cray, for its part, is not sitting on the sidelines. On May 12, the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) announced a joint project with Cray to build a 100-teraflop supercomputer. The ultimate capacity of the Cray supercomputer at ORNL could reach 250 teraflops by 2007, which would represent a massive 690 percent plus improvement over the Earth Simulator.

For now though, Cray's X1 system remains its core supercomputer. Next generation Cray products, X1E, CD1 and Red Storm are expected to roll out in the second half of 2004. In April Cray acquired OctigaBay Systems, which together with Red Storm, more than quadruples Cray's addressable market according to IDC.

Cray has already announced a number of orders for the Red Storm product, which is expect to come in at 40 teraflops. The first Red Storm system is being developed with Sandia National Laboratories for later this year as part of a $93 million dollar contract.