West Oz spends $80m on supercomputer

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West Oz spends $80m on supercomputer

Strengthens bid for radio telescope project.

Researchers will get a data-crunching boost in the form of an $80 million high-performance computing facility to be built in Perth.

Launched by Innovation Minister Kim Carr today, the supercomputer centre will be built next to the Australian Resources Research Centre on land owned by the CSIRO.

It will be funded out of the $160.5 million space and astronomy component of the Federal Government's super science initiative, announced in the last budget.

The operator will be iVEC, which is a joint venture between CSIRO and Western Australia's four public Universities, "with support from the State Government", according to a statement.

"This collaborative centre will have a radio-astronomy focus and be closely linked with the leading-edge Australian Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Pathfinder radio-telescope being built in WA as a precursor to the SKA project," Carr said.

"It will build relationships with institutions like the new International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research to assist with providing the data-crunching power needed to interpret information from the Pathfinder and eventually - we hope - contribute to the SKA itself."

The Square Kilometre Array is a large-scale radio telescope consisting up to four thousand antennas spread over a five thousand kilometre baseline to create a single deep space listening device.

Australia and New Zealand are bidding against South Africa to build the project.

"The [supercomputing] centre will go a long way towards demonstrating that Australia is ready to host the SKA," Carr said.

"It will also boost WA's and Australia's wider research credentials by supporting work in other data-intensive disciplines, including mineralogy and chemistry."

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