Skip to main content

Performance and Scaling of WRF on Three Different Parallel Supercomputers

Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNTCS,volume 9137)


A WRF weather model configuration with high I/O frequency was tested on three IBM supercomputers for up to 6144 cores. Scalability, overall performance, and I/O throughput was examined for a 12-h forecast with hourly I/O intervals. The three parallel systems tested were the (a) POWER 775 cluster (p7-IH, IBM POWER7, HFI interconnect), (b) the POWER 460 cluster (Pureflex IBM POWER7, Dual QDR Infiniband interconnect) and (c) the iDataPlex cluster (dx360M4 Intel Sandybridge, FDR14 interconnect). MPI traces were obtained on all systems for runs with 128, 256, 512, 1024, 1536, 2048, 3072, 4096 and 6144 cores. I/O quilting was employed, and the number of MPI tasks (including task grids), OpenMP threads and I/O quilting tasks was kept Identical across all three systems. The effects of computation, communication, I/O throughput, load imbalance and simultaneous multithreading (SMT), was examined across all three systems and for all core counts. It was found that all systems performed similarly, despite significant differences in interconnect, processor, I/O subsystems and software/compiler technologies.


  • WRF
  • idataplex
  • Pureflex
  • Power 775
  • 460
  • I/O
  • Performance

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD   39.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD   54.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Learn about institutional subscriptions


  1. Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model.

  2. Skamarock, W.C., Klemp, J.B., Dudhia, J., Gill, D.O., Barker, D.M., Duda, M., Huang, X.-Y., Wang, W., Powers, J.G.: A Description of the Advanced Research WRFVersion 3, NCAR Technical Note (2008)

    Google Scholar 

  3. WRF V3 Parallel Benchmark Page.

  4. Michalakes, J., Hacker, J., Loft, R., McCracken, M.O., Snavely, A., Wright, N.J., Spelce, T., Gorda, B., Walkup, R.: WRF nature run. J. Physics: Conf. Series 125(1), 012022 (2008). SciDAC 2008, 13–17 July 2008, Washington, USA, 2008

    Google Scholar 

  5. The IBM p775 System.

  6. The IBM p460 System.

  7. The IBM dx360M4 iDataPlex.

  8. The IBM GPFS.

  9. Langkamp, T., Bohner, J.: Influence of the compiler on multi-CPU performance of WRFv3. Geosci. Model Dev. 4, 611–623 (2011)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 



  12. NetCDF.

  13. Jianwei L., Liao, W.-K., Choudhary, A., Ross, R., Thakur, R., Gropp, W., Latham, R., Siegel, A., Gallagher, B., Zingale, M.: Parallel netCDF: a scientific high-performance I/O interface. In: Proceedings of the 15th Supercomputing Conference, Phoenix, AZ, November 2003

    Google Scholar 


  15. Hoisie, A., Johnson, G., Kerbyson, D.J., Lang, M., Pakin, S.: A performance comparison through benchmarking and modeling of three leading supercomputers: blue Gene/L, red storm, and purple. In: Proceedings of IEEE/ACM Supercomputing (SC 2006), Tampa, FL (2006)

    Google Scholar 

  16. Arnold, D., Morton, D., Schicker, I., Jorba, O., Harrison, K., Zabloudil, J., Newby, G., Seibert, P.: WRF benchmark for regional applications. In: WRF User’s Workshop (2011)

    Google Scholar 

  17. Morton, D., Nudson, O., Stephenson, C.: Benchmarking and evaluation of the weather research and forecasting (WRF) model on the Cray XT5. In: Proceedings of CUG (2009)

    Google Scholar 

  18. Kerbyson, D.J., Barker, K.J., Davis, K.: Analysis of the weather research and forecasting (WRF) model on large-scale systems. In: Proceedings of the Conference on Parallel Computing. Advances in Parallel Computing, vol. 15. IOS Press (2008). ISSN 0927-5452, ISBN 978-1-58603-796-3

    Google Scholar 

  19. Porter, A.R., Ashworth, M.: Configuring and optimizing the weather research and forecast model on the CRAY XT. In: 2010 Cray User Group Proceedings

    Google Scholar 

Download references


The author wishes to acknowledge the China Meteorological Administration and Ms. Wei Min, for configuring WRF and preparing the Initial and boundary conditions for the runs. Acknowledgement is extended to Mr. James Abeles of IBM for performing the WRF scaling runs on the iDataPlex dx360M4 system.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Zaphiris Christidis .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2015 Springer International Publishing Switzerland

About this paper

Cite this paper

Christidis, Z. (2015). Performance and Scaling of WRF on Three Different Parallel Supercomputers. In: Kunkel, J., Ludwig, T. (eds) High Performance Computing. ISC High Performance 2015. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 9137. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-20118-4

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-20119-1

  • eBook Packages: Computer ScienceComputer Science (R0)