UPDATED 15:47 EST / AUGUST 11 2020


Maxar develops high-performance computing solution to accelerate weather forecasting

When a major storm threatens industrial facilities, 100 minutes is a lot of time.

That’s the average period it takes to process available global data to make weather predictions, so Maxar Technologies Inc. embarked on a project to speed that up.

Working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Amazon Web Services Inc., Maxar developed a high-performance computing solution that could produce a numerical weather prediction forecast in approximately half the previous time, or 53 minutes. The company recently received a “Best High Performance Computing Solution” award from AWS Public Sector in recognition of the accomplishment.

“We wanted to help people better understand how weather could impact their mission, business or operations, and a big element of that was doing it with speed,” said Travis Hartman (pictured, right), director of analytics and weather at Maxar. “We knew NOAA had capabilities of weather prediction models in traditional on-premises, big beefy high-performance supercomputers, but we wanted to do it in the cloud; we wanted to use AWS as a key partner.”

Hartman spoke with John Furrier, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio, about the AWS Public Sector 2020 Partner Awards Program. Furrier also spoke with Vijay Tallapragada (pictured, left), chief of the Modeling and Data Assimilation Branch at the National Weather Service in a separate interview. They discussed the collaboration between NOAA and Maxar to develop faster modeling and the role of AWS technology in facilitating a solution. (* Disclosure below.)

High-performance cluster

Maxar has four active satellites orbiting the Earth, gathering 3 million square kilometers of imagery per day. Working with NOAA and the National Weather Service, which is chartered to provide forecasts for the protection of the nation’s lives and property, Maxar designed a cloud HPC cluster with 234 Amazon EC2 instances.

“We were able to share our community codes with Maxar, and with our help they were able to establish this entire modeling system,” Tallapragada explained. “They were able to reproduce our operational forecasts using cloud resources, and then they did even more by scaling the modeling systems so they could run faster and quicker than what NOAA operations can do.”

Reducing the amount of time helped improve forecasting speed for NOAA and benefited Maxar clients that were dependent on proactively protecting assets and personnel affected by extreme weather.

“NOAA is using the cloud for accelerating research, accelerating how the advancement of numerical weather prediction from the U.S. can benefit from cloud architecture and computing,” Hartman said. “A lot of what we’ve done at Maxar with our HPC solution in the cloud is something that’s pretty interesting to NOAA, and it’s a good opportunity to continue our collaboration.”

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the AWS Public Sector 2020 Partner Awards Program. (* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for the AWS Public Sector 2020 Partner Awards Program. Neither AWS, the sponsor for theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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