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Scientific Programming
Volume 8, Issue 1, Pages 49-57

Design and Performance Analysis of a Massively Parallel Atmospheric General Circulation Model

Daniel S. Schaffer and Max J. Suárez

NASA Seasonal to Interannual Prediction Project, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Code 971, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA

Received 11 October 2000; Accepted 11 October 2000

Copyright © 2000 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In the 1990's, computer manufacturers are increasingly turning to the development of parallel processor machines to meet the high performance needs of their customers. Simultaneously, atmospheric scientists studying weather and climate phenomena ranging from hurricanes to El Niño to global warming require increasingly fine resolution models. Here, implementation of a parallel atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) which exploits the power of massively parallel machines is described. Using the horizontal data domain decomposition methodology, this FORTRAN 90 model is able to integrate a 0.6° longitude by 0.5° latitude problem at a rate of 19 Gigaflops on 512 processors of a Cray T3E 600; corresponding to 280 seconds of wall-clock time per simulated model day. At this resolution, the model has 64 times as many degrees of freedom and performs 400 times as many floating point operations per simulated day as the model it replaces.