Adelaide Uni adds supercomputing cluster

Sun Microsystems has joined forces with Adelaide University to open a new physics facility, which is the largest supercomputing cluster in the Southern Hemisphere.

The $3.6 million facility -- the National Computing Facility for Lattice Gauge Theory (NCFLGT) -- will equip the university with a system capable of 144 billion calculations per second. It will enable Adelaide-based scientists to compete at the forefront of international research into lattice gauge theory, an advanced supercomputing technique that aims to advance understanding of the fundamental forces of nature.

The new facility will assist and complement the Special Research Centre for the Subatomic Structure of Matter (CSSM), a world-class research centre established at the university three years ago. While Adelaide University researchers will be the main users of the facility, it will also be used extensively by their NCFLGT partners at the University of Melbourne and the University of NSW.

Under the arrangement, Sun will make a significant contribution to help establish the facility, including the provision of technology based on 40 clustered Enterprise 420 systems and the Solaris operating system; support services will be provided by Sun's enterprise services organisation.

Adelaide University vice-chancellor Professor Mary O'Kane said Sun's contribution is a vote of confidence in the university and the state.

"It's a recognition that world-leading research is taking place here in South Australia and deserves to be supported," she said.

"Lattice gauge theory is a field that depends heavily on the use of supercomputing systems and this new cluster from Sun will be a major boost for our scientists in their efforts to advance our knowledge of the world at the deepest level." Sun's South Australian manager, David Hussey, said the academic community is often the test-bed from which future technologies are cultivated.

"The university project provides a valuable opportunity for us to be involved in world-leading research and development, and the size and complexity of the data computations means we can fully exercise the robustness and scalability of the Sun system," Hussey said.

"We look forward to seeding the next generation of high-performance computing technology from our involvement in projects such as this one." Facility manager, associate professor Tony Williams, said it will allow researchers to tackle more complex problems to compete at the international cutting edge of lattice gauge theory.

"This is another clear example of how cutting-edge fundamental research can stimulate advances in technology," he said.

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