New data centre in Italy houses supercomputer

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The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) has opened a new data centre in Bologna, Italy. The facility houses the new Atos BullSequana supercomputer system. The system is scheduled to begin running operationally by mid-2022.

The company has said the new HPC system will improve the data centre’s current supercomputing capability by a factor of five, and will facilitate work into the field of machine learning for numerical weather prediction, as well as work to create a digital twin of the Earth. The data centre is located on the Tecnopolo di Bologna campus that is redeveloping unused buildings and grounds of a former tobacco factory. Construction work began in December 2018, and the Atos XH2000 will sit in a 10,700 square foot data hall.

“It is an important moment in the life of ECMWF as we formally become a multi-site organisation, with our head offices in the UK and our new data centre in Bologna, Italy,” Dr Florence Rabier, director-general of ECMWF, said. “After two years of work, the new data centre of the ECMWF starts up at the Bologna Technopole.”

Though its headquarters remain in the UK, the ECMWF council made the decision to develop a new data centre in Italy in 2017 after it decided its existing facility in Reading could not accommodate the centre’s next generation of supercomputers. The facility includes solar panels to provide renewable power and cooling systems that use both groundwater cooling and dry coolers.

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