This past week, efforts to build one of the world’s fastest supercomputers with IBM (NYSE: IBM) playing a lead role took a huge leap forward.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is building a supercomputer just west of Cheyenne, Wyo. The 153,000-square-foot center should open by late September or early October. Its grand opening is set for Oct. 15.

Last week, the center received a major shipment of computers.

Crews began to move in and assemble some of these large IBM computer units. There will be 63 such computer units housed in a huge room.

“This is exciting. We’ve been planning portions of this facility for about seven years,” Aaron Andersen, deputy director for operations at the facility, said during a media tour. “It’s kind of like this is game time. You practice for a long time and you get to go to the big game now.”

The computers should be installed by August, Andersen said, and then they will be tested. The computer’s speed ranks the system among the 10 fastest supercomputers in the world. It will be able to perform 1.5 petaflops (1.5 quadrillion) calculations or operations per second, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports.

The supercomputer will help scientists across the country research weather events, air pollution, climate, carbon sequestration, earthquakes and water issues. The computer will be able to simulate hurricanes, tornadoes and severe storms. Its answers will help scientists better understand and predict natural disasters.

“This is the biggest facility system NCAR has installed,” Andersen said.

The new facility cost $70 million to build. Money comes from federal and state governments and business groups.

The IBM Yellowstone supercomputer is estimated to cost between $25 million and $35 million.

The University of Wyoming is a partner in the supercomputer, and the state of Wyoming provided $20 million toward its construction. UW also will pay $1 million a year for 20 years for upgrades and storage.

In return, the university will have access to 20 percent of the supercomputer’s operations.

In other news:

  • IBM has been putting a different spin on the French Open tennis tournament this year. 

You might want to check out the tech -heavy stats feature for the finish of the men’s final Monday morning.

It’s called the “Slam Tracker.”

“Leveraging the power of predictive analytics technology, IBM analysed over 39 million data points across seven years of grand slam championships to find patterns and styles for players when they win. This knowledge is applied against an opponent’s patterns and style to determine the keys to the match for each player,” says the website for the French Open.

IBM ARCHIVE: Check out a decade of IBM stories as reported in WRAL Tech Wire.]