Western Australia's Interactive Virtual Environment Centre (IVEC) for high performance computing and visualization technology, received an additional $3.1 million in state government funding last week which will go towards bringing its supercomputing facilities in line with the other APAC members.
A joint venture between Central TAFE, CSIRO, Curtin University of Technology and the University of WA, IVEC will allocate about $1 million of the funding towards upgrading the HPC hardware and software, according to Dr Steve Harvey, deputy chief of CSIRO exploration and mining in WA.
Harvey said the upgrades are necessary so that the new IVEC, IVEC2, has the capacity to service the "extensive demand in usage that has developed over recent years".
"A new HPC facility [will] be located at The University of Western Australia and the Australian Resources Research Centre nodes by the end of 2005," Harvey said. "IVEC2's Mission Statement has been refined to reflect its more mature stage of development, relative to IVEC1. IVEC2 will increase Western Australia's innovative capacity and economic development through the exploration, evolution and exploitation of advanced computing technology, high-speed communications, scientific visualisation, grid technologies and e-research infrastructure."
IVEC2 will go out to tender for the HPC equipment.
With an initial core membership consisting of Central TAFE, CSIRO, Curtin University of Technology, Murdoch University and UWA, Harvey said IVEC2 aims to "engage, encourage and energise" the research and education communities and industry into understanding how advanced computing and visualisation technologies can enhance economic development.
"This will be accomplished through the provision of highly accessible HPC and visualisation equipment and the necessary operational support," he said. "Specifically, IVEC2 will work with the universities to develop high-quality graduate students trained in advanced computational skills; provide networked access to a range of HPC facilities within Western Australia and nationally, and promote and facilitate the uptake of advanced computing technology by industry."
Funding has also been earmarked for connecting new members to the network and to upgrade existing infrastructure.
"Virtual reality technology will be a component of IVEC2, however the type is still under discussion," Harvey said.
The funding also includes the inaugural Premier's Collaborative Research Program grant of $600,000 over three years for specific collaborative research to develop a 3D virtual environment to enhance investigation of mining accidents bringing the total funding to $3.7 million.
Virtual reality technology aimed at reducing the number of mine site accidents will also be developed, according to the state's Premier And Science Minister Dr Geoff Gallop.
"Virtual reality is becoming a key tool in medicine, industry and a range of research fields," Gallop said. "In the research field, it is very important as it helps overcome the isolation that can be a problem for Western Australia - by giving researchers the chance to collaborate in real time with interstate and overseas researchers."