Earth Simulator

Earth Simulator

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The Earth Simulator developed by the Japanese government's initiative "Earth Simulator Project", was a highly parallel vector supercomputer
A supercomputer is a computer at the frontline of current processing capacity, particularly speed of calculation.Supercomputers are used for highly calculation-intensive tasks such as problems including quantum physics, weather forecasting, climate research, molecular modeling A supercomputer is a...

 system for running global climate model
Global climate model
A General Circulation Model is a mathematical model of the general circulation of a planetary atmosphere or ocean and based on the Navier–Stokes equations on a rotating sphere with thermodynamic terms for various energy sources . These equations are the basis for complex computer programs commonly...

s to evaluate the effects of global warming
Effects of global warming
This article is about the effects of global warming and climate change. The effects, or impacts, of climate change may be physical, ecological, social or economic. Evidence of observed climate change includes the instrumental temperature record, rising sea levels, and decreased snow cover in the...

 and problems in solid earth geophysics. The system was developed for Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
The , or JAXA, is Japan's national aerospace agency. Through the merger of three previously independent organizations, JAXA was formed on October 1, 2003, as an Independent Administrative Institution administered by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the...

, Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute
Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute
The Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute is a former semi-governmental organization that existed for the purpose of further nuclear power in Japan. It was created June 1956 by the Atomic Energy Basic Law...

, and Japan Marine Science and Technology Center in 1997. Construction started in October 1999, and the site officially opened on March 11, 2002. The project cost 60 billion yen.

Built by NEC, ES was based on their SX-6
The SX-6 is a supercomputer built by NEC Corporation that debuted in 2001; the SX-6 was sold under license by Cray Inc. in the U.S. Each SX-6 single-node system contains up to eight vector processors, which share up to 64 GB of computer memory...

 architecture. It consisted of 640 nodes with eight vector processor
Vector processor
A vector processor, or array processor, is a central processing unit that implements an instruction set containing instructions that operate on one-dimensional arrays of data called vectors. This is in contrast to a scalar processor, whose instructions operate on single data items...

s and 16 gibibyte
The gibibyte is a standards-based binary multiple of the byte, a unit of digital information storage. The gibibyte unit symbol is GiB....

s of computer memory
Computer memory
In computing, memory refers to the physical devices used to store programs or data on a temporary or permanent basis for use in a computer or other digital electronic device. The term primary memory is used for the information in physical systems which are fast In computing, memory refers to the...

 at each node, for a total of 5120 processor
Central processing unit
The central processing unit is the portion of a computer system that carries out the instructions of a computer program, to perform the basic arithmetical, logical, and input/output operations of the system. The CPU plays a role somewhat analogous to the brain in the computer. The term has been in...

s and 10 terabyte
The terabyte is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information. The prefix tera means 1012 in the International System of Units , and therefore 1 terabyte is , or 1 trillion bytes, or 1000 gigabytes. 1 terabyte in binary prefixes is 0.9095 tebibytes, or 931.32 gibibytes...

s of memory. Two nodes were installed per 1 metre x 1.4 metre x 2 metre cabinet. Each cabinet consumed 20 kW of power. The system had 700 terabyte
The terabyte is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information. The prefix tera means 1012 in the International System of Units , and therefore 1 terabyte is , or 1 trillion bytes, or 1000 gigabytes. 1 terabyte in binary prefixes is 0.9095 tebibytes, or 931.32 gibibytes...

s of disk storage
Disk storage
Disk storage or disc storage is a general category of storage mechanisms, in which data are digitally recorded by various electronic, magnetic, optical, or mechanical methods on a surface layer deposited of one or more planar, round and rotating disks...

 (450 for the system and 250 for the users) and 1.6 petabyte
A petabyte is a unit of information equal to one quadrillion bytes, or 1000 terabytes. The unit symbol for the petabyte is PB...

s of mass storage
Mass storage
In computing, mass storage refers to the storage of large amounts of data in a persisting and machine-readable fashion. Devices and/or systems that have been described as mass storage include tape libraries, RAID systems, hard disk drives, magnetic tape drives, optical disc drives, magneto-optical...

 in tape drive
Tape drive
A tape drive is a data storage device that reads and performs digital recording, writes data on a magnetic tape. Magnetic tape data storage is typically used for offline, archival data storage. Tape media generally has a favorable unit cost and long archival stability.A tape drive provides...

s. It was able to run holistic simulations of global climate in both the atmosphere and the oceans down to a resolution of 10 km. Its performance on the LINPACK
LINPACK is a software library for performing numerical linear algebra on digital computers. It was written in Fortran by Jack Dongarra, Jim Bunch, Cleve Moler, and Gilbert Stewart, and was intended for use on supercomputers in the 1970s and early 1980s...

 benchmark was 35.86 TFLOPS, which was almost five times faster than ASCI White
ASCI White
ASCI White was a supercomputer at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California.It was a computer cluster based on IBM's commercial RS/6000 SP computer. 512 of these machines were connected together for ASCI White, with 16 processors per node and 8,192 processors in total with 6 terabytes of...


ES was the fastest supercomputer in the world from 2002 to 2004. Its capacity was surpassed by IBM
International Business Machines Corporation or IBM is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas...

's Blue Gene/L
Blue Gene
Blue Gene is a computer architecture project to produce several supercomputers, designed to reach operating speeds in the PFLOPS range, and currently reaching sustained speeds of nearly 500 TFLOPS . It is a cooperative project among IBM Blue Gene is a computer architecture project to produce...

 prototype on September 29, 2004.

ES was replaced by the Earth Simulator 2 (ES2) in March 2009. ES2 is an NEC SX-9/E system, and has a quarter as many nodes each of 12.8 times the performance (3.2x clock speed, four times the processing resource per node), for a peak performance of 131 TFLOPS. With a delivered LINPACK performance of 122.4 TFLOPS, ES2 was the most efficient supercomputer in the world at that point. In November 2010, NEC announced that ES2 topped the Global FFT, one of the measures of the HPC Challenge Awards
HPC Challenge Benchmark
The HPC Challenge Benchmark is a set of benchmarks targeting to test multiple attributes that can contribute substantially to the real-world performance of HPC systems, co-sponsored by the DARPA High Productivity Computing Systems program, the United States Department of Energy and the National...

, with the performance number of 11.876 TFLOPS.

The Earth Simulator Center has several special features that help to protect the computer from natural disasters or occurrences. A wire nest hangs over the building which helps to protect from lightning. The nest itself uses high-voltage shielded cables to release lightning current into the ground. A special light propagation system utilizes halogen lamps, installed outside of the shielded machine room walls, to prevent any magnetic interference from reaching the computers. The building is constructed on a seismic isolation system, composed of rubber supports, that protect the building during earthquakes.

See also

  • Supercomputing in Japan
    Supercomputing in Japan
    Japan operates a number of centers for supercomputing which hold world records in speed, with the K computer becoming the world's fastest in June 2011....

  • Attribution of recent climate change
    Attribution of recent climate change
    Attribution of recent climate change is the effort to scientifically ascertain mechanisms responsible for recent changes observed in the Earth's climate...

  • NCAR
  • HadCM3
    HadCM3 is a coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation model developed at the Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom...

  • EdGCM
    The Educational Global Climate Model or ' is a fully functional global climate model that has been ported for use on desktop computers...

External links