"Blue Storm" Provides Computing Infrastructure That Will Enable European Weather Organization to Significantly Improve Forecasts.

ARMONK, NY, December 21, 2001 -- IBM announced today that it has been selected by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) to build the world's most powerful supercomputer for weather prediction, enabling meteorologists to offer new and much improved forecasts. Dubbed "Blue Storm," the IBM eServer p690-based system will provide the European National Weather Services with advanced weather information that will enhance activities ranging from the early warning of severe storms and floods to the optimal routing of ships at sea to the planning of family picnics.

IBM will supply ECMWF with a computing infrastructure including a supercomputer that is projected to be about five times more powerful than ECMWF's current systems, together with a data storage network of IBM disk and tape systems as well as software that speeds the flow of data to and from the supercomputer's thousands of microprocessors.

ECMWF's researchers will access Blue Storm via IBM IntelliStation workstations running Linux, while researchers throughout Europe will access the system over a wide-area network.

"Today's highly sophisticated numerical models of the world's atmosphere and ocean require the most powerful supercomputing resources," says Dr. David Burridge, director of ECMWF. "In addition to supplying unmatched technology, we are confident that IBM will be a trusted partner with the skills and experience to help us overcome many of the challenges we face in predicting the global weather."

According to Dr. Burridge, Blue Storm will provide ECMWF with the unprecedented level of computational power needed to make major advances in three strategic areas:

  • Exploitation of the wealth of information that will be provided by an enhanced network of satellite observation systems. Blue Storm will help scientists determine more accurately the initial state of the atmosphere and oceans, thus significantly improving the Centre's forecasts.

  • Representation of heating and cooling, cloud formation and dissipation, rain, snow and other processes in the Centre's model of the global atmosphere; the model has 21 million grid points distributed throughout the atmosphere between the surface and a height of 65 km.

  • Improvements of the techniques developed by the Centre, and based on chaos theory, to estimate the uncertainty in the forecasts and the probabilities of alternative developments over the coming week, month and season. Improved advance warning of severe weather events anywhere on the globe is a specific aim of ECMWF's strategy.

    "ECMWF is renowned for developing new techniques that advance the science of meteorology," said Val Rahmani, general manager, pSeries, IBM Server Group. "By pushing the boundaries of supercomputing power, IBM supplies the organization's scientists with the tools to realize some of their most ambitious goals."

IBM will provide ECMWF with:

  • An IBM eServer Cluster 1600 supercomputer built with multiple eServer p690 enterprise UNIX servers, code-named "Regatta." In 2002, IBM will deliver a system capable of achieving seven teraflops, or seven trillions of calculations per second. The supercomputer will be expanded in stages and, when fully installed in 2004, will achieve over 20 teraflops.

  • IBM TotalStorage products, including: FAStT500 storage servers, SAN fabric and IBM TotalStorage Enterprise Tape Drive 3590 to store observational meteorological and oceanographic data and forecast results.

  • The High Performance Storage System (HPSS), advanced software for data management in technical computing environments. HPSS was developed in association with the world's most advanced supercomputing sites, including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, home of IBM's ASCI White, to provide a data stream fast enough to match the processing speed of very large supercomputers. HPSS is designed to move large data objects across networks at high speed between supercomputers, disks, and tape libraries.

ECMWF's weather forecasts are essential to many business activities, such as routing oil tankers and cargo ships at sea, as well as demand planning for electric utilities and manufacturers. The organization supplies meteorological information to national weather services, which issue warnings, present daily television weather forecasts throughout Europe, and provide specialized services to their many commercial and governmental users.

Today's announcement highlights a powerful trend towards the use of IBM supercomputers and storage systems to predict weather and climate changes. IBM technology has recently been selected by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the Naval Oceanographic Office, the National Climactic Data Center, Germany's Deutscher Wetterdienst and other premier weather forecasting and climate modelling organizations worldwide.


The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) is an international organisation supported by 22 European States. Its Member States are Belgium, Denmark, Federal Republic of Germany, Spain, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom; the Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Iceland and Slovenia are Co-operating States.

The principal objectives of the Centre are the daily preparation of medium-range weather forecasts up to 10 days ahead for distribution to the meteorological services of the Member States; scientific and technical research directed to the improvement of these forecasts; the development of an operational seasonal forecasting capability; and the collection and storage of appropriate meteorological data. ECMWF also makes supercomputing resources available to its Member States for their own research.

John Buscemi
Manager, Media Relations,
IBM eServer pSeries and Supercomputers
tel: 914-766-4495 (t/l 826)

Austin Woods
011 44 118 949 9101