ANU to install 1.2 petaflop supercomputer

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ANU to install 1.2 petaflop supercomputer

Fastest in the southern hemisphere.

The Australian National University has unveiled plans to build the southern hemisphere's fastest supercomputer installation in a $100 million bid to boost computational resources for several research areas.

The university will install two new x86 supercomputers under a contract with Japanese IT vendor Fujitsu at the institution's National Computational Infrastructure data centre by January next year.

The machine uses Intel Xeon E5 2670 Sandy Bridge processors with eight cores, running at 2.6GHz. Once complete, the entire machine will have 3592 compute nodes, 157 terabytes of memory and 12.6 petabytes of storage, with a power consumption of between 1.3 and 1.4 megawatts.

The x86 cluster is expected to operate at 1.2 peta floating point operations per second, placing the installation within the top five fastest supercomputers in the world, according to November 2011 rankings.

Its predecessor at the facility, a Sun Blade machine installed in 2010, sits at number 91 and can operate at 126 teraflops.

The data centre will also host a much smaller, Fujitsu PRIMEHPC FX10 supercomputer, according to professor Robin Stanton, ANU’s vice-chancellor of e-strategies.

This is built around Fujitsu-fabricated SPARC64 processors, and customised by Fujitsu to provide around 20 teraflops of performance.


Fujitsu PRIMEHPC FX10 Supercomputer
Fujitsu PRIMEHPC FX10 Supercomputer

The FX10 machine will be used as an auxiliary machine in specialised research areas and collaborative projects. It will serve as a gateway to machines such as the international leadership class Kei computer, according to Stanton.

He said the Intel machines would “support outstanding research teams in Australia where outcomes depend on the power of the computational base”.

Fujitsu’s Kei Computer in Tokyo holds the current world record for fastest installation, reaching 10.51 petaflops last year.

National Computational Infrastructure director Lindsay Botten said the supercomputer would raise Australia's place  in high-impact research and innovation.

It would be used in areas including computational chemistry, particle physics, microbiology, nanotechnology and photonics will also benefit from the new super computer.

It could also be used in climate modelling, advanced materials research as well as astronomy and medicine.

Half of the computer's $100 million funding is sourced from the Federal Government's $901 million Super Science Initiative, with the other half sourced from research partners.

Key partners include the CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia, leading research intensive universities and state-based university e-research consortia.

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