Warning Decision Support System -- Integrated Information

Automated algorithms, tools and displays for analysis, diagnosis and forecasts of severe weather phenomena       www.wdssii.org


Real-time Data

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Obtaining WDSS-II


Platforms for WDSS-II

WDSS-II can be used as a research platform or to do real-time weather analysis. When used for research, you will typically use the same machine for running algorithms and for displaying the results. When doing real-time weather analysis, you will typically use an "algorithm" machine and view the generated products from a "display" machine. In that case, you will typically require a separate display machine for each real-time forecaster and enough algorithm machines to handle the ingest and algorithms for your domain (the larger the domain, the more machines you need).

The minimum spec should be used when real-time performance is not critical. The regional-scale spec is usually the sweet spot in performance/cost. You could also farm off algorithm processing to a number of workstations, in which case, you can get away with older hardware.

I/O is the most critical aspect of algorithm machines, followed closely by amount of RAM. The CPU specs are a distant third. The graphics card is the most critical aspect for display machines -- almost nothing else matters. So, if you have money left-over to upgrade your machine, try to optimize the I/O first, memory next and CPU last.  Be warned that optimizing I/O invariably involves optimizing the read/write speeds not search efficiency (1).

Operating systems supported:

Hardware Specifications

Item Minimum Spec for research version Regional-scale (1000 km x 1000 km) algorithm machines CONUS-scale algorithm machines
Display -only machine for real-time applications
Processor One Pentium IV or better dual 32-bit Xeon or Athlon
dual 64-bit Opteron or Xeon (2)
single Xeon or better
Random Access Memory (RAM) 512MB 2GB per processor (ideally 4 GB per processor)
8 GB per processor (ideally 16 GB per processor)
2 GB
Storage (I/O)  (3)
1GB per data case RAID 0 (dedicated RAID) -- 4 GB
RAID 0 (dedicated RAID for each machine) -- 20 GB
1 GB

Video Card 32MB graphics card supported by Linux none
128MB NVidia GeForce4 for display machine

How many machines do you need?
These metrics for different scenarios may give you an idea:


  1. Don't fall for sales pitches that try to sell you storage area networks or other distributed storage solutions -- you need a dedicated RAID for each box with a Gigabyte connection going from the machine to the storage for optimal transfer speeds.
  2. Avoid 64-bit Itanium processors since gcc optimization on Itanium is poor; we've not been successful in porting our software to use Intel's compiler.
  3. Make sure that there is enough space in /tmp (at least 500 MB free) since we use /tmp rather heavily. If you don't have space in /tmp, set your TMPDIR environment variable to point to some place else. Linux heavily optimizes the use of /tmp, and may not do so for other directories.