This post was co-authored by Gayle Sheppard, Corporate Vice President, Global Expansion and Transformation.

The UK’s Meteorological Office (Met Office) is working with Microsoft to provide advanced supercomputing capabilities for weather and climate research, continuing the Met Office’s international leadership role in this area.

Supercomputing is fundamental to the Met Office’s weather and climate science and services. With Microsoft Azure’s Supercomputing-as-a-Service, Met Office can leverage the best mix of dedicated and public cloud services to make more accurate predictions that help citizens and businesses better plan their daily activities and better prepare for extreme weather and be able to cope with the challenges associated with climate change.

Microsoft Azure will integrate HPE Cray EX supercomputers from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) as well as an active high-performance data archive system from Microsoft and other Azure cloud technologies as well as an end-to-end managed service to provide this market-leading supercomputing-as-a-service. The partnership will also include innovation services to help the Met Office leverage future technologies such as AI, as well as commercialization opportunities.

Work on the project will begin immediately, and the supercomputing capability will be operational in July 2022. The supercomputer consists of four quadrants to optimize operational stability for mission-critical supercomputing capabilities. Each quadrant consists of an HPE Cray EX supercomputer integrated in Azure, which initially uses 3rd generation AMD EPYC processors and is later expanded to include next-generation AMD EPYC processors. The first generation of the supercomputer solution will comprise a total of over 1.5 million processor cores and over 60 petaflops, which are also referred to as 60 quadrillion (60,000,000,000,000,000) calculations per second of the total peak computing capacity. Microsoft will continue to provide enhancements in computing capacity over the past decade.

The active data archive system supports almost 4 exabytes of data with powerful functions for storing, querying and retrieving data. The Met Office will also use Azure High Performance Computing (HPC) cloud solutions such as HB series InfiniBand clusters powered by AMD EPYC processors.

Look to the future

Under this agreement, the supercomputing capability will be based in the south of the UK and powered by the use of 100 percent renewable energy and market leading energy efficiency, saving 7,415 tons of CO2 in the first year of operation alone. This collaboration with Met Office builds on that of Microsoft Commitment to a more sustainable future by reducing our environmental footprint, accelerating research and helping our customers develop sustainable solutions.

This partnership demonstrates Microsoft Azure’s unique ability to deliver mission-critical supercomputing that is fully integrated with cloud computing. Microsoft remains the only public cloud provider that gives customers access to the full range of HPC features, including dedicated supercomputers, InfiniBand HPC clusters with industry-leading real application performance and scalability, and a wide variety of virtual machine types with networks with low latency. All over the world, Azure consistently demonstrates our ability to place real HPC functions in the hands of a wide variety of customers and users so that they can activate their individual innovations.


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