China plans to employ a special USD 14 million “magic cube” super computer as tall as a two-storey building in its quest to know the earth’s future and calculate the potential changes to the climate and biological systems.
Chinese scientists hope to calculate almost everything in natural earth systems from the formation of clouds to changes in climate hundreds or thousands of years in the future.
Several research institutes under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have jointly unveiled the special supercomputer — named the prototype of Earth System Numerical Simulator and the software “CAS Earth System Model 1.0” running the device.
The buzzing, blue “magic cube” super computer is placed in the Zhongguancun Software Park in northern Beijing. With a total investment of 90 million yuan (about USD 14 million), it has a peak computing power of at least 1 petaflop, making it one of China’s 10 most powerful computers. Its has a storage capacity of over 5PB.
The “magic cube” is about tenth the size of a future earth simulator, which is still in design, and will be used by scientists to develop the final simulator, conduct short-term climate forecasts and control of air pollution, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Ding Yihui, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and an expert of the China Meteorological Administration, said the prototype and the software are a breakthrough for China’s development of the earth systems simulator, and will provide a solid basis for the integrated study of weather and climate.
Zhang Minghua, a researcher with the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, said the CAS Earth System Model 1.0 includes complete modules representing climate and biological systems, all scientifically interconnected.
“The computing system can simulate the atmosphere, ocean currents, land surface processes and biological systems,” said Zhang.
“Even factors from space like cosmic rays and solar wind can be simulated in the device, which is very powerful,” said Ding.
The simulator could help scientists study climate changes at least 30 years ahead and the change of PM 2.5 air pollutant particles. “It will play an important role in reducing greenhouse gases and improving the climate,” Ding said.
Cao Zhennan, assistant to the CEO of the Sugon Information Industry Company, said earth system simulation needs a high-performance computer.
Using the prototype of the Earth System Numerical Simulator, it takes about a day to calculate changes over six years in the atmospheric cycle, the water cycle, the rock and soil cycle, the biological cycle and other natural cycles, said Zhou Guangqing, director of the information centre of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics.
According to Zhu Jiang, head of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, the final simulator is expected to have a computing capacity 10 times higher than the current prototype.