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Pawsey Centre home to new supercomputer

A petascale supercomputer at the Pawsey Centre in Perth will help process data for radio astronomy projects

A $33 million Cray supercomputer will be installed at the Pawsey Centre in Perth over two years.

The supercomputer will primarily support research for two radio telescope projects - the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) and the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA). It will also be used to support research into geosciences, nanotechnology and biosciences.

The supercomputer, a Cray Cascade system, will be capable of processing radio astronomy data in real time.

It will be installed over two phases in June 2013 and June 2014 – in 2013, it will have a combined performance of 0.3 petaflops, with this to increase to 1.2 petaflops in 2014 using Intel Ivy Bridge, Haswell and MIC processors.

The installation of the system, which will be supplied by Cray, SGI and Oracle, will be managed by CSIRO and iVEC, an unincorporated joint venture of CSIRO and four public West Australian universities: Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, Murdoch University and the University of Western Australia.

Palo Alto firewalls will be provided by o2 Networks and Cisco switches and routers will be supplied by Perth-based company L7, an Amcom Company.

“This purchase represents a remarkable investment in the future of Australian research. Using the power of this petascale supercomputer and the expertise of iVEC’s staff, scientists will be able to explore new paradigms of research that were previously unavailable,” Paul Nicholls, acting iVEC executive director, said in a statement.

“From the far reaches of space to the depths of the Earth, the Pawsey Centre will open new vistas of knowledge to increase Australia’s profile as an international leader in innovation.”

CSIRO has been eyeing off a petascale supercomputer for the Pawsey Centre since November 2011.

The Pawsey Centre is located in Kensington, Western Australia, and was first outlined in May 2009 when the Federal Government allocated $80 million in funding under its Super Science Initiative.

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