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IBM Helps Weather Service Go Hurricane Hunting

It will supply the National Weather Service with its most powerful computer yet as part of a $200 million dollar deal; the unit is expected to boost the weather service's ability to forecast hurricanes.
IBM will supply the National Weather Service with its most powerful supercomputer yet as part of a nine-year, $200 million deal, the company said Friday. The weather service--part of the Commerce Department--has activated the first phase of the supercomputer, which is expected to increase its ability to forecast hurricanes.

The first stage of the installation, a cluster of 44 IBM p690 Unix servers and 42 terabytes of disk storage, has a peak speed of 7.3 trillion floating-point operations per second, according to IBM. The vendor expects the system to exceed 100 teraflops by 2009. IBM will host the computer in a facility at Gaithersburg, Md.

Dave Turek, IBM's VP of Deep Computing, says the National Weather Service will access computing power from the system via the Internet and other network technologies. IBM's hosting of the computer exemplifies "changing business models" in the supercomputing market, he says.

National Weather Service forecasts are used for television and newspaper weather reports, and in aviation, agriculture, and other fields.