Installing a new supercomputer: timelapse

Last week, iVEC, a joint venture of the CSIRO and four Western Australian universities, oversaw the installation of the second portion of the Australian Government's $80 million supercomputer investment. The supercomputer will provide the grunt to process data for research projects such as the global Square Kilometre Array (SKA) initiative.

Last week, iVEC, a joint venture of the CSIRO and four Western Australian universities, oversaw the installation of the second portion of the Australian Government's $80 million supercomputer investment. The supercomputer will provide the grunt to process data for research projects such as the global Square Kilometre Array (SKA) initiative.

The SKA will be the largest and most sensitive radio telescope ever made, consisting of thousands of receptors linked together across an area the size of a continent. The data from this telescope needs to be processed, which will take immense amounts of computing power. Other areas in which the supercomputer might work include nanoscience and geoscience.

The SGI-sourced supercomputer installed last week at the University of Western Australia, called "Fornax", was named after a constellation visible from the southern hemisphere, which was identified by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in 1756. It has 96 nodes, each containing two 6-core Intel Xeon X5650 CPUs, an Nvidia Tesla C2050 GPU and 72GB of RAM, resulting in a system containing 1152 cores and 96 GPUs. It also has a 500TB global file system, in addition to each node having 7TB of local disk space.

Fornax follows the installation of another HP supercomputer, which is housed at Murdoch university. Meanwhile, the CSIRO has released a tender looking for the third and final supercomputer to be installed in the custom-built Pawsey centre on which construction is due to start early this year. The three supercomputers will be able to work together via fibre links.

(Video credit: associate professor Paul Bourke, University of Western Australia)

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