1 March 2017

Artist's impression of proposed new ECMWF data centre

ECMWF’s Council of Member States met on 28 February and 1 March 2017 in an extraordinary session to consider proposals to host ECMWF’s data centre.

This meeting took place at the end of an extensive process of evaluation by a panel of international experts and representatives of the Centre’s Member States, who reviewed bids on criteria ranging from financial and technical aspects and environmental impact to capability to deliver.

Following the recommendation of its Evaluation Panel that the Italian proposal is considered the best from the point of view of the requirements and the overall interests of ECMWF, Council mandated Director-General Florence Rabier to prepare a high-level agreement with the Italian Government, for approval by Council at its next session.

The Italian proposal comes from the Emilia-Romagna Region in Italy and would see the future ECMWF data centre located in the ‘Tecnopolo di Bologna’.

ECMWF’s Director-General Florence Rabier stated: “It has been clear for a while now that the current data centre facility does not offer the required flexibility for future growth and changes in high-performance computing (HPC) technology. As laid out in our 2025 Strategy launched last September, we believe that continuing to improve weather predictions relies heavily on our ability to support our science with proportionate computing power. Intermediary goals to 2020 already require that the Centre’s next supercomputers should provide a tenfold increase in our computational capacity. The three key components that will make up this increase are technology developments, scalability efficiency gains and additional processors. This latter point would require a significant expansion of our current data centre infrastructure, which unfortunately cannot be achieved in our current location. It is this constraint that triggered the process to identify a new site. I was impressed by the quality of all the proposals we have received, and I now look forward to starting discussions with the Italian Government.”

The next few months will allow both sides to discuss the legal, financial and technical elements of the proposal in greater detail, ahead of the next session of Council.

ECMWF wants to acknowledge the support and commitment of its Member States over the process so far, and especially wishes to thank all the bidding teams for the significant efforts put into their proposals.

Image: gmp von Gerkan, Marg & Partner