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This Nvidia-powered supercomputer will simulate the Earth to predict natural disasters

Earth simulator 4
(Image credit: Dima Zel / Shutterstock)

A new supercomputer is under construction - based on components from NEC and Nvidia - that will simulate Planet Earth in a bid to forecast natural disasters.

According to an Nvidia blog post, the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) has commissioned NEC to build the fourth iteration of its Earth Simulator, which will go live March.

Based on NEC’s SX-Aurora TSUBASA vector processors and Nvidia A100 Tensor Core GPUs, (connected with Nvidia Mellanox Infiniband technology), the new supercomputer will deliver a maximum performance of 19.5 petaFLOPS - 15x that of its predecessor.

Earth Simulator 4

While the new machine won’t touch the 415.5 petaFLOPS performance achieved by the world’s most powerful supercomputer, it is being constructed with a very specific workload in mind: modelling the planet.

In layman's terms, Earth Simulator 4 will be used to perform large-scale simulations to help predict natural disasters ahead of time, thereby affording the relevant organizations additional time to prepare for any imminent incidents.

Earth Simulator 1, 2 and 3 - the latest of which was launched in 2015 - were put to work by JAMSTEC in the same way, but advances in climate modelling have driven an increase in data generation that the older systems are ill-equipped to manage.

The fourth generation supercomputer will have a significant edge over its predecessors, able to perform calculations at a much faster pace and much larger scale, all the while maintaining the same level of power consumption.

“The new system will benefit from a multi-architecture design, making it suited to various research and development projects in the earth sciences field,” explained Gilad Shainer, SVP Marketing at Nvidia Mellanox.

“In particular, it will act as an execution platform for efficient numerical analysis and information creation, coordinating data relating to the global environment. Its work will span marine resources, earthquakes and volcanic activity.”

This, Nvidia claims, could have a material impact on the ability to save both lives and critical infrastructure in the event a disaster occurs.