New supercomputer boosts research capability
A new, hi-tech supercomputer capable of six trillion calculations per second will help South Australia to tackle some of the big issues in scientific and applied research, such as water resources and environmental management.
The new high-performance supercomputer will be used by the South Australian Partnership for Advanced Computing (SAPAC) to support research and development by governments, industry and universities in key areas of need.
SAPAC is a partnership of the three South Australian universities - Adelaide, Flinders and UniSA. The new supercomputer, to be installed at the University of Adelaide next month, has been purchased from SGI, one of the world's leading high-performance computer companies.
In the tradition of naming cluster-based supercomputers after stellar constellations, the new supercomputer will be called "Corvus", the constellation of the crow. It will effectively replace the retiring "Perseus", the oldest of SAPAC's four existing supercomputers, which was built in the late 1990s.
"This new supercomputer is a major leap forward for the South Australian research and development community," said Professor Tony Williams, Director of SAPAC.
"The power that this computer offers is desperately needed by South Australia's research community to make a real impact in areas of strategic need.
"It will be used to tackle some of the most demanding scientific and technical problems, ranging from bioinformatics, fluid dynamics, water resource and environmental management, physical oceanography, computational chemistry, and physics.
"We believe that Corvus will be the fourth fastest computer in Australia and, for dedicated R&D, second only to the Australian National Facility in Canberra," he said.
Professor Williams said Corvus would become an integral part of the evolving national Grid, a network of high-performance computers, data repositories, scientific instruments and related software and services.
In addition to the supercomputer itself, SAPAC had also purchased "massive and expandable data storage infrastructure and technologies", Professor Williams said.
"South Australia's research data collections are growing rapidly, and this new infrastructure will help us to create a sustainable repository for data in this State."
Corvus has been funded in part by an Australian Research Council LIEF grant with contributions from the three South Australian universities and SAPAC itself.
It complements SAPAC's existing supercomputers, which include "Aquila", purchased in 2004 from SGI through a grant from the South Australian Government.
"We chose SGI again as the supplier since they offered us the best overall package and a total technological solution to create an integrated, high-performance computing and data management system," Professor Williams said.
Story by David Ellis