New supercomputer to boost Aussie research (updated)

$15 million, 140 teraflops Sun Constellation launched at ANU

Australia's newest and most powerful supercomputer, set to rocket into the world's top 40, will be launched in Canberra today.

The $15 million, 140 Teraflop Sun Constellation, housed at the Australian National University (ANU), will boost Australia’s computational research capability into world rankings.

The facility will be operated by National Computational Infrastructure (NCI), an initiative jointly funded by the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science, and Research, and by the co-investment of partner organisations, including ANU and CSIRO.

The supercomputer has "180 Sun Blade x6275 Server Modules implemented in two compute racks" that will be expanded to 14 racks by the end of the year. According to a statement, the total system, "which also leverages the Sun Lustre Storage System and the Sun Datacenter InfiniBand Switch 648, will be capable of 140 Teraflops".

NCI Director, Professor Lindsay Botten said the supercomputer is a vital addition to Australia’s computational research capability.

“Australia’s now back in business in the high-performance computing league,” he said.

“It does everything from computational biology, computational chemistry, nanotechnology, astronomy, physics and photonics, medicine, engineering, and environmental science.”

Sun Constellation fast facts:
  • Processing speed is one-seventh of a petaflops

  • Rate of energy consumption is 604 kilowatts

  • 36 terabytes of memory

  • Each rack (25 in total) weighs one tonne

Botten said a myriad of NCI research projects will also benefit from the new facility.

Plans are also underway for the next-generation machine to be launched in 2011, which has already been boosted by $50 million Commonwealth funding.

The next-generation machine is planned to be one or two petaflops.

The CSIRO and ANU will each be granted 25 per cent use of the supercomputer. The Commonwealth Government will gain access to 45 percent of the supercomputer and will divvy out use through a merit allocation scheme, while the remaining five per cent is for smaller partners.

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Tags supercomputingANUSun ConstellationNational Computational Infrastructure (NCI)

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