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National University of Ireland Galway - Irish Centre for High End Computing (IE)

ICHEC, founded in 2005, is Ireland's national high performance computer centre. Its mission is to provide  High-Performance  Computing  (HPC)  resources,  support,  education  and  training  for researchers in third-level institutions and through technology transfer and enablement to support Irish industries large and small to contribute to the development of the Irish economy.

ICHEC works on code optimisation and development of climate and weather codes wirth academia and  public organisations,  in particular  the EC-Earth climate  model, where  it is  a consortium member, and the ’Harmonie’ weather model with Met Éireann in the Hirlam consortium.

ICHEC  has  experience  providing  operational  services  for  Met  Éireann,  the  national  weather service, since 2007. This involves redundant compute and computational scientist support as part of a scientific collaboration, where ICHEC scientists optimise and develop weather and climate codes on next-generation systems. This has recently expanded to include emergency dispersion modelling for the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and RPII (radiation), and Dept. of Agriculture (foot and mouth, disease dispersion); Met Éireann and ICHEC have also demonstrated flood forecasting for the Irish Office of Public Works.

ICHEC manages an Earth System Grid Federation (ESGF) portal for climate model data on behalf of the EC-Earth consortium, publishing data on behalf of 14 organisations; we have developed processing workflows and data management systems for this.

Role in the project

ICHEC’s contribution to WP2 is dedicated to WP2 task 3 and 4. ICHEC will work on the integration of GRIB2 format file output to the XIOS (XML I/O Server) library from IPSL. I/O is a major bottleneck for climate and weather codes, and ICHEC have worked with IPSL, integrating the XIOS library into the EC-Earth climate model, adding memory caching for scaling, and GRIB format writing.

ICHEC plans to add two components: use current and planned changes to XIOS by IPSL in memory layout to enable GRIB writing of large files. Currently GRIB output is limited by the need to do an in-memory transpose, requiring all of a dataset to be in memory simultaneously. Planned changes by IPSL in the server layer will make it possible to complete the transpose over multiple nodes, enabling high-resolution GRIB writing. IHEC as original author of the GRIB code will adapt the GRIB model for this.

Secondly, the current GRIB code is limited to lat-long and simple Gaussian outputs. There is no GRIB equivalent to the NetCDF unstructured grid outputs. We will work with partners (in particular ECMWF) to standardize the GRIB output for unstructured grids, and provide GRIB output in unstructured and icosahedral grids.

Names of the colleagues involved

Dr Alastair McKinstry

Relevant infrastructure and services available for climate & weather

  • ICHEC’s primary HPC facility is “Fionn”, a 7680-core SGI ICE X / SGI UV 2000 system (147 Tflop peak) with additional accelerator and high-memory regions. This has 560 TB  formatted Lustre storage, and multiple login nodes, including dedicated nodes for NWP and emergency service use
  • ICHEC is also part of the eINIS collaboration, managing an Earth System Grid Federation (ESGF) node managing climate model data on 1 PB of storage based at DIAS in Dublin.


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