Construction to Begin on NCAR

Concept art of building
An artist's rendering of the NCAR Wyoming supercomputing center in Cheyenne. (NCAR)

A ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony today signaled the start of construction for the National Center for Atmospheric Research's (NCAR) new supercomputing center in the North Range Business Park in Cheyenne.

The NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) will provide advanced computing services to scientists across the nation in a broad range of disciplines, including weather, climate, oceanography, air pollution, space weather, computational science, energy production and carbon sequestration. It will also house a premier data storage and archival facility that will hold, among other scientific data, unique historical climate records.

The center is a partnership among NCAR, and its managing organization, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), and the National Science Foundation (NSF), the University of Wyoming (UW), the state of Wyoming, Cheyenne LEADS, the Wyoming Business Council and Cheyenne Light, Fuel and Power.

"How long have we waited for this day? It's a great day," said Gov. Dave Freudenthal. "This has been a long time in coming. I think it shows something that Wyoming is good at -- we stick with it. There were times we could have thrown up our arms and said ‘this thing isn't going to work,' but we stuck with it. This will not be a national-class facility, this will be a world-class facility located in Wyoming."

Freudenthal, UW President Tom Buchanan, NCAR Director Roger Wakimoto and UCAR President Rick Anthes spoke at today's ceremony.

The supercomputing center will play a key role in UW's continuing emphasis on science research and education, Buchanan said.

"At UW, we've been working hard to concentrate and expand our resources and scientific expertise in the computational sciences, and this new supercomputing facility will allow us to push the boundaries of science and engineering," Buchanan said. "Computational science is now recognized as the third branch of science, following experimental and theoretical science, and supercomputing centers like this one are what power computational science."

The NWSC, expected to be up and running in spring 2012, will be funded by NSF, the state of Wyoming, and UW. It will cost about $70 million to construct.

The facility will open with a new supercomputer that will be acquired through open competition over the next couple of years. Budget estimates range from $25 million to $35 million for the initial procurement. Planning includes an upgrade in technology every two to five years, depending on a number of factors, including budget and market availability.

The NWSC is designed specifically for scientific supercomputing. When it opens its doors in 2012, the facility is projected to be approximately 90 percent more energy efficient than typical supercomputing centers. NCAR is also pursuing LEED Gold certification for the facility, a recognized standard for measuring building sustainability.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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