​Nvidia pairs with Monash University for GPU-accelerated research

Technology giant Nvidia has announced a research and development collaboration with Melbourne's Monash University to advance Australia's GPU-accelerated research and innovation.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

In a first outside of Singapore, Nvidia and Monash University have launched an official partnership that will see researchers and scientists from the Melbourne-based university join Nvidia's Technology Centre Asia Pacific.

According to Mike Wang, solutions architect for Nvidia in ANZ, the Technology Centre is dedicated to driving scientific research and development work in the APAC region.

The two companies, who have worked with each other in the past, will jointly fund research students, facilitate access to GPU-accelerated computing technologies, and leverage their worldwide network of experts to provide industry relevant training and knowledge exchange.

It is anticipated that Monash researchers and Nvidia engineers will work together globally as part of the arrangement, with Wang saying the company intends to run workshops and hackathons, with communication to initially take place remotely.

Although the finer details of the partnership are still to be ironed out, Wang did not rule out the possibility of an intern exchange with institutions in Singapore and Nvidia's worldwide pool of engineering talent.

"It's going to be great for Australian science and research and it's going to be the first of its kind, but certainly not the last," he said. "There will be another 'spoke' in the region, and we hope to have more spokes throughout Australia."

The Nvidia-Monash partnership comes as the university unveiled its upgraded M3 supercomputer on Monday, with Steve Oberlin, CTO at Nvidia's accelerated computing business unit, revealing the M3 is a high performance computer intended to accelerate the university's scientific research.

Monash University has invested AU$4.1 million in this new AU$5.7 million project to fund M3, which is located at the Multi-modal Australian ScienceS Imaging and Visualisation Environment (MASSIVE) in Clayton, Victoria.

Working with with the CSIRO and the Australian Synchrotron, MASSIVE is a high performance computing facility designed specifically to process complex data.

According to Monash, over the past five years MASSIVE has played a key role in driving discoveries across many disciplines including biomedical sciences, materials research, engineering, and geosciences.

"Nvidia has pioneered the art of science and visual computing since 1993; their technologies are transforming the world of displays into a world of interactive discovery for researchers," said Professor Paul Bonnington, director of the new research centre at Monash University.

"This captures the spirit of this MASSIVE facility and indeed MASSIVE has more Nvidia GPU processors than any other research computing system in Australia."

Bonnington said that globally, Nvidia is playing a critical role in the race to build exoscale computers to tackle the world's most complex computational challenges in science and industry.

"As a global tech company on the bleeding edge, we need access to that bleeding edge of research," Wang said. "Science and research is what drives technology and innovation."

With the skills shortage in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) a hot topic on both sides of Australian politics, Wang believes collaboration between the academic sector and industry opens more opportunities to students.

"It's a virtuous cycle," he said.

In a report released last year, Australia's former chief scientist Professor Ian Chubb said entrepreneurship was a human endeavour and is thus inseparable from education, not independent of it. He also said that universities should be at the core of building a culture of entrepreneurship in Australia.

"In popular culture the entrepreneur is the rogue genius who succeeds without -- or in spite of -- education. And it would be extremely convenient if that were true," Chubb said. "If we cannot teach entrepreneurship, we can only recognise the born entrepreneurs, and get out of their way whilst they get on with the business of change."

Chubb's view is one echoed by the federal government, with Minister for Industry, Innovation, and Science Christopher Pyne drumming into the nation that the key to its future is productivity growth, driven by innovation.

Pyne said previously that Australia has the infrastructure to lead the world in research and innovation, saying he believes the researchers, universities, and institutions like the CSIRO and Questacon have the ability to underpin this.

Earlier this month, Data61, the University of New South Wales (UNSW), and Cisco Systems recently announced a partnership with the National Farmers' Federation, the NSW Farmers Association, the NSW Department of Primary Industries, and startup incubator ATP Innovations to bring technology to the agricultural world.

Known as Innovation Central Sydney, this partnership will focus on developing new uses for Internet of Things (IoT) technologies within the agricultural sector, as well as extending these solutions into implementing smart cities and smarter transport solutions.

Disclaimer: Asha Barbaschow travelled to Monash University as a guest of Nvidia.

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