KNMI projects ECMWF MSCR-28 Highlights

On this page




Highlights from MSCR, May 2016

This year's meeting of the ECMWF Member State Computing Representatives (MSCR-28) took place from May 18 – 20 at ECMWF in Reading.

On the agenda were the upgrade of the supercomputer, ECMWF's desktop strategy, ECMWF Copernicus services and its User Support, ECaccess, ideas on and current activities in cloud computing, web applications (ecCharts and Web API), software developments, and the results of the recent MARS survey. Also there was ample time for the Member States to share developments in their Met Services and their experiences with ECWMF.
On this page you will find some highlights which might be relevant or otherwise interesting for KNMI and other dutch users of ECMWF computing facilities. More details can be found in the presentations, which are available on the Internet (see the menu on the right).

The Director of Computing, Adrian Wander, started with a general overview of the status and plans at ECMWF.
Important news is that the contract with Cray on High Performance Computing has been extended until 30 September 2020, giving the Centre more time to consider relocation. This means that the upgraded Cray XC40 will be available 2 more years than originally envisaged, albeit that no extra upgrade of this service has been planned in this period.

The upgrade of the Cray XC30 HPCF

For the second phase of the Cray HPCF contract, the XC30 machines have been upgraded to XC40. To this end, the Intel Ivy Bridge processors were exchanged for Intel Broadwell processors and the memory for every node was extended from 64 GiB to 128 GiB. Moreover, an extra cabinet with 128 nodes was added to each of the clusters. At the same time, the operating system and compilers have been upgraded. The result will be a performance increase of approximately 60%.
The Centre was, at the time of the meeting, in the middle of the upgrade. The change of the processors and increase of the memory of one of the clusters (CCB) had just been completed, and the system was already up for testing. In June the second cluster was also upgraded.

Messages for the users:

More information on the HPCF phase 2 system and the upgrade is available through the ECMWF User Documentation (see menu).

Desktop Strategy

ECMWF is rethinking their strategy with respect to desktops. The goal is to become flexible enough to deal with the ever changing world of hardware, software and user demands and habits, but at the same time keep a high level of security and manage that as efficient as possible.
Virtualisation is a key ingredient, but performance issues and the high initial costs are taken very serious.

Software developments


ecCodes is a package developed by ECMWF which provides an application programming interface and a set of tools for decoding and encoding GRIB and BUFR messages. It is an evolution of GRIB-API and that package has now fully been absorbed into ecCodes. With the exception of the Fortran-77 interface, the calls and tools from GRIB-API are now available in ecCodes, with identical names. GRIB-API is still available as a separate package, but in the (near) future it will not be updated anymore.
Migration of BUFR handling from Emoslib still requires work.
For both GRIB and BUFR data graphical viewers are being developed, based on the data examiners in Metview.


The old Emoslib still can not be retired. Therefore maintenance is still necessary, and new features, like the octahedral reduced Gaussian grid, have been implemented.

MIR — the new interpolation package

The new interpolation package MIR is now almost feature-complete with Emoslib. It is currently being reviewed and tested very thoroughly and comparison with Emoslib will be the subject of a report.

Metview & Magics

Metview and Magics have been updated. Important for The Netherlands is that they now have a new set of coastlines in which Flevoland is no longer missing.

MARS survey

A few weeks before the meeting, ECMWF conducted a survey on MARS among all registered users. This included the self-registered users. The aim of the survey was to investigate the user satisfaction, also with the new Web API client, and determine whether any actions are needed.
Although most users report to be quite happy with the service, but the documentation might be improved, and the turn-around times are not always appreciated.
ECMWF is still contacting some individual respondents for more information and will publish the results and conclusions later.
Hans de Vries, © KNMI, July 21, 2016