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UW Faculty Encouraged To Apply for Supercomputer Use This Summer

April 10, 2013
Large computer servers
UW faculty members have until May 15 to submit their applications for core-hour allocations on Yellowstone, the nickname for the supercomputer. (NCAR Photo)

University of Wyoming faculty members who are interested in using the National Center for Atmospheric Science (NCAR)-Wyoming Supercomputing Center in Cheyenne for their computational research have until May 15 to submit an application to request a large core-hour allocation on the powerful machine.

Applications and allocation information can be accessed at The research must lie in earth system science or atmospheric science. A list of eligible science areas is available at A PowerPoint presentation that offers suggestions on how to write a competitive proposal can be found at

Seven projects received allocations in November 2012 and another six were selected in February 2013.

“Those that receive allocations would be able to start using the supercomputer in early July,” says Bryan Shader, a UW professor of mathematics and a special assistant to UW’s vice president for research and economic development.

The Wyoming share of the NWSC resources is currently 75 million core hours of computing on Yellowstone; around 400 terabytes of high-performance storage on GLADE; and 5 petabytes of longer-term tape storage on HPSS.

With the first cycle of supercomputer projects finishing up and the second still in progress, Shader says that approximately half of UW’s allocation is available each allocation window. Any request for more than 200,000 core hours is considered a large request.

Shader says that requests average about 5 million to 6 million core hours per project.

“The larger the request, the more justification they require -- and rightfully so,” Shader says. “If you need to run many different scenarios (on the supercomputer), you need to justify why. The committee can look at it and determine if the (core-hour request) is needed and uses the resource wisely.”

Also, models that require high resolution in order to have fine enough detail to better understand the phenomena require more core hours.

“If you’re trying to understand wind near the surface of the wind farm; how the wind interacts with the pole and blades; and the effect of wakes from other turbines…In order to get all of that right, that takes a lot of detail,” Shader says.

Successful allocation requests include benchmarking studies on a smaller scale and on a smaller computer. These benchmark studies can be performed using UW’s Mount Moran, a high-performance computer.

Large allocation requests are reviewed by a panel appointed by the Computer Information Science Laboratory at NCAR and UW.

“The committee will have to decide how to divvy up the resources,” Shader says. “The No. 1 thing they want to promote is high-quality science and support a variety of projects.”

The NWSC is the result of a partnership among the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), the operating entity for NCAR; the University of Wyoming; the state of Wyoming; Cheyenne LEADS; the Wyoming Business Council; and Cheyenne Light, Fuel & Power. The NWSC is operated by NCAR under sponsorship of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The NWSC contains one of the world's most powerful supercomputers (1.5 petaflops, which is equal to 1.5 quadrillion mathematical operations per second) dedicated to improving scientific understanding of climate change, severe weather, air quality and other vital atmospheric science and geo-science topics. The center also houses a premier data storage (11 petabytes) and archival facility that holds historical climate records and other information.

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