IBM supercomputer to boost health research in Victoria

The Blue Gene/Q supercomputer should be operational in June this year

The University of Melbourne (UoM) has acquired one of the world’s fastest and greenest supercomputers to help further the study of human diseases.

The IBM Blue Gene/Q supercomputer — expected to be operational in June this year — will provide 836 teraflops of processing power, which is the equivalent of more than 20,000 desktop computers.

The supercomputer will be installed at the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI), which was established by the Victorian government in conjunction with UoM and the IBM Research Collaboratory for Life Sciences, in Melbourne for $100 million to advance biotechnology by enabling scientists to improve diagnostics, find new drug targets and refine treatments.

According to UoM deputy vice-chancellor (research), Professor Jim McCluskey, the machine’s large-scale capacity will assist researchers of life sciences to fast-track solutions to complex scientific problems and debilitating diseases.

“Through this supercomputer, scientists will be able to advance their work in finding cures and developing improved treatments for cancer, epilepsy and other devastating diseases affecting the lives of Australians and people worldwide,” he said in a statement.

But despite its large computational power, the machine has received top honours on the Green500 list as the most energy-efficient supercomputer for the third time in November 2011.

Blue Gene is an IBM project aimed at designing supercomputers that consume less power but can still reach speeds in the petaflops range. Three generations of the supercomputers have already been spawned from the project: Blue Gene/L, Blue Gene/P, and Blue Gene/Q.

Follow Diana Nguyen on Twitter: @diananguyen9

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