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JASMIN4: A crucial upgrade for environmental science

16/03/2018

JASMIN4: A crucial upgrade for environmental science

A major upgrade is being made to double the storage available in one of the UK's national supercomputers.

JASMIN is a globally unique data intensive supercomputer for environmental science. Currently supporting over 160 science projects, JASMIN users research topics ranging from earthquake detection and oceanography to air pollution and climate science.

The upgrade will double the available storage to more than 44 petabytes, equivalent to over 10 billion photos. It will also add around 40% to the processing capability, with 11,500 cores on 600 nodes, similar to adding the power of several thousand high-end laptops. This means that the 1,700 registered users of JASMIN can process and analyse big datasets simultaneously and in very little time.

When JASMIN was brought online six years ago with just 4.5 petabytes of storage, it revolutionised access to data for the environmental science community in the UK. Researchers can access the data, which is typically too big for them to download to their own computers, and process it rapidly, reducing the time it takes to test new ideas and get results, from months or weeks to days or hours.

The Centre for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA) manages the software and data available on JASMIN. Dr Victoria Bennett, Head of CEDA, said:

"We are excited to be expanding JASMIN to manage the increasingly large datasets, from satellites, climate models and other sources. The current Sentinel satellites alone are producing 10 terabytes of data every day and this will grow as more are launched as part of the European Commission's Copernicus programme. This upgrade will allow us to build on the successes we've already seen in enabling our users in the science community to efficiently process and analyse these datasets."

Funded with a multi-million pound investment from NERC, the upgraded system will support the global analysis of the next generation of climate models, provide a venue for UK academia and industry to exploit Earth observation data, and continue to provide the 'UK environmental data commons' - an online collaborative space bringing together data, services and expertise - underpinning much of academic environmental science.

NERC Associate Director of National Capability and Capital Dr Liz Fellman, said:

"NERC welcomes this major upgrade to a world-class facility. The JASMIN supercomputer is central to delivering NERC science across its portfolio and provides a globally unique and increasingly powerful capability for the UK's environmental science community, enabling significant improvement of predictive environmental science to benefit the UK and beyond."

Professor Pier Luigi Vidale from the University of Reading has been using JASMIN since 2012 to store and analyse high-resolution global climate model data. Professor Vidale welcomed the JASMIN upgrade:

"The project we're currently leading involves 21 institutions across Europe and will output more than 4 petabytes of data. The upgrade will allow us to store all data and to do most of the analysis online, thus dramatically speeding up the extraction of science, at unprecedented resolution and enabling scientific publication at a far higher rate. We would not have embarked on the project without the enhanced JASMIN."

As a 'customised' data intensive supercomputer, the JASMIN upgrade involves the integration of computing equipment from many suppliers, a specialised new network, the development and deployment of new software, and the migration of petabytes of archived data from old hardware in need of retirement, to new. The entire process will take many months, from the integration of the first new equipment in March until the last of the old storage is retired. Completion is expected by the end of 2018. The system integration is being led by the Science & Technology Facilities Council's Scientific Computing Department (SCD), and the software and data management by CEDA.

Jonathan Churchill, JASMIN Systems Architect & Manager for SCD, said:

"We are terrifically excited to see how the JASMIN 4 upgrade, which we designed and are now installing, will be exploited by the ever expanding JASMIN science communities. Not only have we dramatically scaled out JASMIN storage, processing capability and networking, but the new storage and networking technologies will improve the user experience and provide capabilities that we have never been able to make available to users before. The computer upgrade will provide not only much needed extra batch computing cores but also provide the deep, on-demand cloud computing capacity and flexibility that releases new analysis environments to our science communities."

JASMIN is jointly managed on behalf of NERC by CEDA (part of RAL Space) and SCD, all based within the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) at Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire.

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