New Supercomputer Coming to RSMAS

Gulf of Mexico oil spill effects, aerial

New Supercomputer Coming to RSMAS

By early November, the Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment (CARTHE), in collaboration with the University of Miami Center for Computational Science (CCS), will acquire a Cray XE6m supercomputer as part of the organization’s goal to develop and improve computational tools to accurately predict the fate of hydrocarbons released into the environment during normal and hurricane weather conditions. Already, the installation has begun on UM’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science campus.

“This supercomputer is more important than ever to our project in light of Hurricane Isaac cutting directly through our on-going experiment in the Gulf of Mexico. Data collected during the hurricane may help shed light on how pollutants behave should an oil spill occur before or during a major weather event like Hurricane Isaac,” said Tamay Özgökmen, CARTHE director.

An animated movie of Hurricane Isaac going through the experiment can be seen at

Özgökmen added, “We have some challenging goals ahead of us as we produce comprehensive modeling hierarchy that provides a four dimensional description of oil/dispersant fate and transport in the Gulf of Mexico and coastal environments across all relevant time and space scales, and in multiple weather conditions. High performance computing is a critical element of our research, and we needed a system that has the performance, usability and demonstrated capabilities that will allow us to start our work now. The Cray XE6m is a great fit for us.”

CARTHE is funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI), which is a 10-year, $500 million independent research program that was established to study the effects of the Deepwater Horizon incident. GoMRI investigates the impacts of oil, dispersed oil, and dispersant on the ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico and affected coastal States in a broad context of improving fundamental understanding of the dynamics of such events and their environmental stresses and public health implications.

“The Cray XE6m is quite unique and much like a very tightly knit computational ecosystem,” said Nick Tsinoremas, CCS director. “It is likely the very best solution for problems of this type today.”

CCS staff oversaw real-time data management from the information collected from 300 drifting buoys this summer that occurred in five-minute intervals, and they will continue to provide logistical support to scientists as the data are analyzed throughout the project.

“The Cray supercomputer not only provides impressive computing power, but it represents an entirely new form of computing for many principal investigators whose problems fit into the same sort of paradigm as the CARTHE project,” said Joel Zysman, CCS director of high-performance computing. “With the system scheduled to be up and running in approximately nine weeks, we have a wonderful new tool for these researchers.”

The Cray XE6m system includes the same petascale technologies found in high-end Cray supercomputers, such as Cray’s Gemini interconnect, the Cray Linux Environment and powerful AMD Opteron processors. The system is designed to maintain an attractive cost of ownership and extend Cray’s presence in market segments that have needs for technical enterprise supercomputing systems, such as the university, manufacturing, weather and life sciences communities. Fully upgradeable from previous generations of Cray supercomputers, the Cray XE6m system is also designed to give customers the ability to upgrade to future Cray systems and technologies.