Intel is funding the Irish Centre for High-End Computing to further develop the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s wave-forecasting code, WaveWatch III. The code is already used to recreate rogue waves hitting Ireland’s west coast and help mitigate their effects

The Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) has embarked on an exciting and ambitious collaboration with Intel and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to modernise NOAA’s operational wave-forecasting code, WaveWatch III.

ICHEC is something of a quiet force in Irish research, where the increasingly vast amounts of data being generated and analysed necessitates smart technical computing approaches. For the last 10 years, ICHEC has collaborated with and supported well over 1,500 researchers, providing a kind of ‘dark energy’ to drive discovery and innovation.

Research is a critical element of Ireland’s future development in the scientific and engineering arena and computational modelling is a fundamental element of an innovative and competitive research environment. ICHEC understands the specific needs of academic, public sector and industrial partners.

Therefore, our approach is easily tailored to maximise the impact of HPC on high value activity in the scientific, computing and engineering fields, driving research forward.

This latest collaboration is an excellent example of the impact smart technical computing approaches can have on scientific discovery. ICHEC is undertaking a two-year research-and-development project to re-engineer and optimise NOAA’s widely used wave modelling software application WaveWatch III for extreme-scale High Performance Computing (HPC) platforms. The collaboration is funded by Intel as a part of the Intel Parallel Computing Centre (IPCC) at ICHEC, led by Dr Michael Lysaght.

This work will deliver modernised software for higher resolution forecasting of extreme wave events in the North Atlantic, as well as faster time-to-solution for wave forecasting carried out by a range of forecasting agencies including Met Éireann, Météo France and the UK Met Office.

The output of this work with NOAA will be of great use to both academia and industry and has great potential to both improve forecasting and to help predict the impact of extreme coastal events.

It is not only ICHEC who are excited about this collaboration. Dr Arun Chawla (acting chief, Marine Modelling & Analysis Branch, NOAA) warmly welcomed the collaboration, highlighting the unique contribution that ICHEC make, saying: “We’re very excited to welcome Dr Lysaght’s team from ICHEC into the WaveWatch III development team. WaveWatch III is a community code for simulating ocean waves.

“We’re an international team of developers from academia, government research facilities and operational forecasting centres. ICHEC brings a unique set of skills to optimise the code and improve its computational efficiency.”

He continued: “This has become a critical issue (especially at operational centres) as new science algorithms that have been developed are hampered by their computational requirements. Having ICHEC in the team will help us significantly expand the capability of the WaveWatch III model and we look forward to years of collaborative development.”

The collaboration has also been welcomed by Prof Frederic Dias, academic collaborator and leading expert in extreme ocean waves, from University College Dublin, who uses this code to re-create rogue waves hitting the west coast of Ireland.

Rogue waves on Ireland’s west coast

Prof Dias and ICHEC have previously analysed the published data of the waves around the Irish coast, the Wave Atlas, and realised it lacked the resolution required to truly simulate and understand the potential of wave energy.

Working together, ICHEC and Prof Dias took the uniform grid used in previous simulations, and replaced them with three nested, triangular grids, with the elements of the grid decreasing in size closer to the coast. This resulted in a far more detailed simulation through increased resolution.

This code has already been instrumental in allowing researchers to re-create rogue waves hitting the west coast of Ireland, such as the famous 26m Killard wave observed on 28 January 2014. The WaveWatch III code has also been put to use by Prof Dias and ICHEC to analyse the formation of rogue waves, which are large amplitude waves that appear suddenly in the open ocean.

By employing the WaveWatch III code as part of a chaotic time series, Prof Dias and his group were able to make use of ICHEC’s systems and expertise to determine that a possible cause of rogue waves is from the interference of smaller, more regular ocean waves.

Through this latest collaboration with NOAA via the IPCC at ICHEC, WaveWatch III will be modernised and optimised to run on some of the world’s leading edge extreme-scale computing systems, resulting in even further increases in resolution and reductions in time to solution.

More specifically, early stage analysis of the WaveWatch III reveals considerable scope for modernisation – especially of the kind that would allow much more efficient exploitation of the highly parallel Intel Xeon Phi processor.

This includes opportunities for extensive improvements to vectorisation to target the new AVX512 instructions on second-generation Intel Xeon Phi (codenamed Knights Landing), memory-focused optimisations, including cache-focused data localisation and on-package high bandwidth memory (MCDRAM) exploitation, as well as improvements to take advantage of new MPI 3 features to help scale the code to higher node counts.

Collaborations between academia and industry

This collaboration is an excellent example of the benefits that can accrue from collaborations between academia, industry and expert technologists. ICHEC has already collaborated on important work in this field, and in looking ahead to a new phase of this partnership is excited to see the rewards and opportunities that will emerge from this work for both academia and industry.

ICHEC is Ireland’s national centre for high-performance and technical computing. It is partly funded by the Irish State through the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation and the Department of Education & Skills. ICHEC is hosted by NUI Galway, with offices in Dublin and Galway.

Dr Michael Lysaght leads the Novel Technologies Activity and the Intel Parallel Computing Centre at the ICHEC, where he has a particular focus on supporting the Irish scientific user community and Irish industry in the exploitation of emerging HPC platforms.

He leads several research projects targeting Intel Xeon Phi across ICHEC and is a member of the Intel Xeon Phi User Group (IXPUG) steering committee. O'RiordanTechenergy,Intel Ireland,software,wave
The Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) has embarked on an exciting and ambitious collaboration with Intel and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to modernise NOAA’s operational wave-forecasting code, WaveWatch III. ICHEC is something of a quiet force in Irish research, where the increasingly vast amounts of...