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International coalition aims to enable climate simulation at extreme scale

Policy decisions for mitigating climate change or adapting to it are subjects of great discussion throughout the world. Uninformed decisions will impose a heavy cost on future generations, both financial and human. Therefore, it is essential to reduce the current uncertainties about future climate changes and their impact by running climate simulations at 1,000 times larger scales than today. Exascale supercomputers (those capable of 1018 operations per second) may appear in 2018-2020, featuring a hierarchical design, gathering hundreds of millions of computing cores. The numerical models of the physics, chemistry, and biology affecting the climate system need to be improved to run efficiently on these extreme systems. Without improvement, these codes will not produce simulation results required to respond to the societal and economical challenges of climate change.

The objective of the G8 ECS project is to investigate how to efficiently run climate simulations on future exascale systems and get correct results. This project gathers top researchers in climate and computer science to focus on three main topics:

  • how to complete simulations with correct results despite frequent system failures
  • how to exploit hierarchical computers with hardware accelerators close to their peak performance
  • how to run efficient simulations with 1 billion threads.

This project also aims to educate new generations of climate and computer scientists about techniques for high-performance computing at extreme scale.

This project is a direct result of the collaboration between the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and INRIA, the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control, through their Joint Laboratory for Petascale Computing. In addition to these three institutions, other partners on the project come from Canada’s University of Victoria, the German Research School, Japan’s Tokyo Tech and University of Tsukuba, Spain’s Barcelona Supercomputing Center, the University of Tennessee and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The project will employ the top supercomputers to experiment with new techniques in the previously described three topics.

This three-year project receives G8 coordinated funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, French National Research Agency, German Research Foundation, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and U.S. National Science Foundation. This project, together with five other projects, was funded as part of the G8 Research Councils Initiative on Multilateral Research, Interdisciplinary Program on Application Software towards Exascale Computing for Global Scale Issues. This is the first initiative of its kind to foster broad international collaboration on the research needed to enable effective use of future exascale platforms.

HPCwire recently published an article on the project.

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