Microsoft brings Azure supercomputing to UK Met Office
By Erin Chapple Corporate Vice President, Azure Core Products and Design
2 min read
This post was co-authored by Gayle Sheppard, Corporate Vice President, Global Expansion and Transformation.
The UK Meteorological Office (Met Office) is working with Microsoft to deliver advanced supercomputing capabilities for weather and climate research, ensuring the continuation of the Met Office’s international leadership in this area.
Supercomputing is fundamental to the Met Office’s weather and climate science and services. Microsoft Azure’s supercomputing-as-a-service will enable the Met Office to leverage the best blend of dedicated and public cloud services to provide more accurate predictions to help citizens and businesses plan daily activities, better prepare for extreme weather, and address the challenges associated with climate change.
Microsoft Azure will integrate HPE Cray EX supercomputers from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), plus a Microsoft high-performance active data archive system, and other Azure cloud technologies, along with an end-to-end managed service to deliver this market-leading supercomputing-as-a-service. The partnership will also include innovation services to support the Met Office in exploiting future technologies, such as AI, plus commercialization opportunities.
Work on the project starts immediately, with the supercomputing capability becoming operational starting July 2022. The supercomputer is built in four quadrants to optimize operational resilience for mission-critical supercomputing capability. Each quadrant will consist of an HPE Cray EX supercomputer integrated into Azure, initially using 3rd generation AMD EPYC processors, which will later be augmented with next generation AMD EPYC processors. The first generation of the supercomputer solution will have a combined total of over 1.5 million processor cores and over 60 petaflops, otherwise known as 60 quadrillion (60,000,000,000,000,000) calculations per second of aggregate peak computing capacity. Microsoft will deliver further upgrades in computing capability over the ten years.
The active data archive system will support nearly 4 exabytes of data with high-performance data storage, query, and retrieval capabilities. The Met Office will also use Azure high-performance computing (HPC) cloud solutions such as HB-series InfiniBand clusters powered with AMD EPYC processors.
Looking to the future
As part of this agreement, the supercomputing capability will be based in the South of the UK and will be powered through the use of 100 percent renewable energy and market-leading energy efficiency, saving 7,415 tonnes of CO2 in the first year of operational service alone. This collaboration with the Met Office builds on Microsoft’s commitment to a more sustainable future by reducing our environmental footprint, accelerating research, and helping our customers create sustainable solutions.
This partnership showcases Microsoft Azure’s unique ability to deliver mission-critical supercomputing integrated with cloud computing at the largest scales. Microsoft remains the only public cloud provider giving customers access to the full spectrum of HPC capabilities spanning dedicated supercomputers, InfiniBand HPC clusters with sector-leading real-world application performance and scalability, and a plethora of Virtual Machine types with low latency networking. Across the globe, Azure is consistently demonstrating our ability to put genuine HPC capabilities into the hands of the broadest range of customers and users, enabling them to unlock their individual innovations.