Universities sign on to supercomputer facility

A new high-performance computing centre in Perth, Western Australia, has attracted large projects from two Australian universities seeking improved data modelling and rendering capabilities. Curtin University of Technology in Western Australia and Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory plan to conduct work in marine science, geophysics and mining using facilities at ISA Technologies' High Performance Computing and Visualisation Centre.

A new high-performance computing centre in Perth, Western Australia, has attracted large projects from two Australian universities seeking improved data modelling and rendering capabilities.

Curtin University of Technology in Western Australia and Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory plan to conduct work in marine science, geophysics and mining using facilities at ISA Technologies' High Performance Computing and Visualisation Centre.

Curtin and ISA said they had signed a memorandum of understanding to conduct research using high performance computing with a view to commercialising the results. Charles Darwin University is expected to announce a similar agreement -- encompassing environmental data modelling -- later this month.

The Curtin agreement allows university researchers to access the computers using the University's optical fibre network link between its Bentley campus and ISA's nearby Technology Park centre.

The universities are looking for the centre's visualisation lab to deliver improved data modelling and rendering for their projects. The centre hosts an IBM xSeries Opteron cluster of 240 processor and a pSeries system using 32-way 1.9Ghz Power4 processors, to provide a computational capacity of 1.5 teraflops, as well as 70 terabytes of storage.

"The additional supercomputing capacity will now accelerate research in fields such as high definition geophysics, maritime engineering, petroleum engineering and large scale transport modelling that can exploit simulation and high speed computational tools," said Professor Barney Glover, Curtin's pro vice-chancellor of research and development.

One Curtin project involves partnering with Woodside Petroleum in underground gas exploration, while the extra processing power should also benefit the University's Centre for High Definition Geophysics by improving predictive analysis for seismic surveys used to locate minerals underground.

The peak research body for advanced computing in the state, the Western Australian Interactive Virtual Environment Centre (iVEC), has also signed an MoU with ISA. IVEC members include universities, Central TAFE and CSIRO.

Western Australia's Minister for State Development, Alan Carpenter, officially opened the centre last week.