UW Compute Clusters for Climate Research

During the Summer of 2002 our NASA funded Climate Processes research group built a "beowulf" compute cluster, Husky, for running various climate and weather models. It was put together from commodity PC parts purchased from the cheapest places on the Internet using a UW ProCard. A couple of months later, with funding from the UW Office of Research, JISAO also built one, Alvin, named in honor of former Vice Provost for Research Alvin Kwiram.

Each cluster contains 18 dual-cpu compute nodes (36 cpus total) and 1 file server node with 2 terabytes of disk space. All the nodes are connected via a gigabit ethernet switch.

Each cluster can run NCAR's Community Atmosphere Model (CAM) on 32 cpus at T42L26 resolution using the spectral Eulerian dynamical core at a rate of 4.5 model years per wall clock day. Bluesky, the fastest machine at NCAR can run the same simulation on 64 cpus (the most that the model can currently parallelize over efficiently) at a rate of 13.2 years per day.

Each cluster costs about $25,000.