Much of the world’s industries are affected by weather. Transportation directors need to know the routes to avoid and to take to minimize risk. Event planners need to know when and where to plan their activities and to prepare for adverse impacts if weather becomes an issue. Insurance companies rely on both forecasts and historical weather data to inform customers of risk and for claims analysis and investigation. Sports, such as racing and sailing, look to weather and environmental data to help determine the best way to compete and to win. According to the United States Department of Commerce, a fully one-third of the U.S. economy is affected by weather.1 It’s no wonder that commercial weather forecasting has become an important business around the world.
UBIMET is one of the world’s leading private weather service providers. With offices in Austria, Australia, Germany and, now, the United States, the company offers a range of precise, real-time micro-climate forecasting and alerts, historical weather data, and other services to several million customers around the globe. With over a decade in practice, UBIMET has developed a reputation for excellence in the fields of meteorology and severe weather warnings. They continue to expand their services and customer reach, with a new office that opened in New York City in March of 2015.
UBIMET’s customers range across nearly every industry, from transportation and logistics to sports, entertainment, media, government institutions, construction and beyond. The company operates the weather services for the Österreichische Unwetterzentrale (Austrian Severe Weather Centre), Deutsches Unwetterradar (German Severe Weather Center), and wetter.tv.
Their weather scientists have access to over 28,000 weather stations around the planet, plus data from lightning detectors, satellites, radars, weather buoys and radiosondes. They developed their own model, called RACE, enabling high-resolution forecasts for highly accurate predictions in regions with complex topographies down to a resolution of 100 meters. UBIMET uses proprietary algorithms, high-quality data, and codes running on Intel Xeon processor-based clusters.
“Our customers take advantage of our service in various ways,” said Michael Fassnauer, UBIMET’s Founder and CEO. “We offer a wide variety of Web-based products and solutions that support our customers’ weather information needs, including a weather information portal, historical weather data, pinpoint weather forecasts for route planning, sever weather warnings, and an API that our customers can use to integrate our services into their Web sites.”
For FIA, the organization that runs Formula 1 racing around the world, they provide trackside micro-climate weather forecasting. Formula 1 race teams receive data about cloud coverage, rainfall probability and amount, humidity, and air and track temperatures, as well as wind speed and direction, all simultaneously, every 30 minutes, via an online system called onTrack. Formula 1 uses the weather and environmental knowledge to help them make informed decisions about race venues, race times and updated race rules. The race teams use the data to help decide what kinds of tires to use, race strategies, and which kind of Head and Neck Support (HANS) devices will be used. “But we only provide the data; the teams and F1 decide on how to use it,” said Fassnauer.
UBIMET’s competitive advantage lies in the complex character of their solutions and depth of their science and technology. “Our meteorologists analyze the weather data and generate the forecasts with the help of our Intel-based high-performance computing (HPC) clusters and infrastructure that the IT-department developed. We are constantly enhancing and optimizing our services, both in terms of the technology and our research and development.”
The scientists had been running their sophisticated MPI codes on clusters based on earlier versions of the Intel Xeon processor, with a VERBS-based InfiniBand interconnect. When their IT department sought to upgrade the clusters, Intel provided a proof of concept system with late-generation Intel Xeon processor-based servers utilizing Intel True Scale Fabric, a family of InfiniBand Host Channel Adapters (HCAs) highly optimized for MPI traffic.
True Scale Fabric is designed to accelerate MPI communications on distributed computing architectures. While MPI, using InfiniBand Verbs, delivers fast communications, there is a costly overhead with Verbs and traditional offload processing on InfiniBand HCAs. This overhead hinders scalability with larger core counts typical of HPC systems, like UBIMET’s. True Scale Fabric, with its open source Performance Scale Messaging (PSM) interface and onload traffic processing, was designed from the ground up to accelerate MPI messaging specifically for HPC. It delivers very high message rates, low MPI latency, and high effective application bandwidth, enabling MPI applications to scale to thousands of nodes.
Additionally, UBIMET recompiled their codes using Intel Compilers. With just these quick upgrades and recompilation, their codes ran 70 percent faster on the advanced infrastructure than their previous equipment, allowing the company to cut their upgrade investment nearly by half, while meeting their computing needs for their customers. UBIMET expects further code optimizations to lead to even greater performance improvements.
“With Intel as the foundation for our computing cluster technology, we are prepared for each challenge,” said Mario Kahn, head of UBIMET’s IT department. “We are glad to have Intel supporting our efforts and be our partner.”
Ken Strandberg is freelance technical writer based in Portland OR.