Big Blue is going to be Big Brother as it strives to control the weather during next year's Olympic Games in Beijing.

The Beijing Meteorological Bureau announced that it has acquired a new IBM (IBM) supercomputer to aid in weather forecasting and air-quality control. The system is capable of sweeping an area up to 44,000 square kilometers to provide hourly numerical weather forecasts for each square kilometer.

The new computer, an IBM System p575, will reportedly provide ten times the computational power of the BMB's current weather forecasting system. In addition to providing up-to-the-hour forecasts, the supercomputer will also be used to help predict air quality in Beijing. The system will be employed by BMB to improve the accuracy of forecasts in the regions surrounding Beijing.

"The IBM supercomputer will allow for much more fine numerical weather forecasting for the Beijing area during the Olympics and afterwards," said Liu Xulin, director of the Beijing Meteorological Information Center. "IBM brings many resources to help us improve forecasting, especially their world-class scientists and researchers, who combine meteorology with computer science."

The 80-node IBM System p575 employs POWER5+ microprocessors, and can deliver peak performance of 9.8 teraflops. This initial configuration of the system would rank it among the ten fastest supercomputers in China, according to the Top 500 list of the world's fastest supercomputers.

"IBM is very proud to be supporting the Beijing Meteorological Bureau," said Fan Yu, director of IBM's Public Sector in China. "We look forward to working with the BMB in their ongoing efforts to improve the forecasting accuracy in the Beijing area."


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