Pawsey Centre adds another supercomputer

A new supercomputer at the Pawsey Centre in WA will be used for the SKA project

A $4 million supercomputer at the Pawsey Centre in Western Australia will be “at the heart” of Australia and New Zealand's co-hosting responsibilities for the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope.

The terascale supercomputer, Fornax, which is Latin for furnace, is the second supercomputer to be added to the $80 million Pawsey Centre project and will used by the University of Western Australia to carry out computational research.

The $33 million Cray supercomputer was also recently added to the Pawsey Centre, with a petascale supercomputer to be installed at the centre in 2013.

Fornax contains 6.9 terabytes of RAM, 672 terabytes of storage and 1152 CPUs, operating across 96 nodes. At peak performance, the system will be capable of performing 62 teraflops or 62 trillion (62,000,000,000,000) operations per second.

"Operated by expert researchers and technical staff, Fornax offers a supercomputing resource which is designed to take in masses of seismic and astronomical data, and forge complex computations out of them,” senator Chris Evans, minister for science and research, said in a statement.

"It gives Australian researchers access to the kind of computing power that is critical to astronomy signal processing needed for the international SKA project.

"Fornax and its partner 'Epic' are helping researchers to develop the expertise needed to get the best out of the Pawsey supercomputer when it comes online.”

The $2.1 billion SKA project will be the world's largest radio telescope and will allow scientists to see back in time. Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were recently named as joint locations for different aspects of the project following rival bids between the counties for hosting rights.

Fornax will be operated by iVEC, which is a collaboration between CSIRO and University of Western Australia (UWA), Murdoch University, Curtin University and Edith Cowan University.

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

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