Australia’s national research computing facility, the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI), has received a $14 million boost, which will provide a 30 per cent uplift in its supercomputing capability.
The government has allocated $7 million – as part of the $16 million being made available through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy Agility Fund – with the rest being matched ‘dollar for dollar’ by NCI’s collaborating partners.
The new funding will help provide better access and accelerate results for more than 4000 researchers using the supercomputer in the areas of earth and environmental sciences, medical research, astronomy and materials science.
NCI’s current supercomputer, Raijin, has a peak performance of 1.2 petaflops, completes 1,200 trillion calculations per second, and delivers more than 500 million compute hours per year.
The expansion provided by this co-investment will see an extra 150 million compute hours become available, which will alleviate supply shortages and enable more impactful research until a replacement for Raijin can be put in place, NCI said.
“Researcher demand is currently outstripping NCI’s current HPC system, which was installed in 2012,” said NCI associate director, Allan Williams.
“This expansion is a most welcome boost as demand for high performance computing is increasing in every area of research and in every research organisation,” he said.
Researchers will also benefit from a 10 per cent increase in overall storage capacity, growing by 3 terabytes with the replacement of the earlier Lustre filesystem.
This new storage capacity will be underpinned by NCI’s existing high-speed InfiniBand interconnect, which links high performance computing and storage systems together at speeds of 50 to 120 gigabytes per second.
“At 50 gigabytes per second, you could write a DVD in one-tenth of a second,” Williams said.
Professor Chris Goodnow, deputy director of NCI’s collaborating partner, the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, said the increase in NCI’s capacity will facilitate the next big step forward in cancer research.
“There are over 70 bioinformaticians working on genomic data at Garvan, and we are generating mind-bogglingly large amounts of genomic information,” he said.
“Each genome requires 5,000 hours of compute time and 1 terabyte (1000 gigabytes) of storage, but at NCI, Garvan can process hundreds of genomes simultaneously.
“NCI provides an academically accessible but secure computational environment, so it’s an ideal repository for the large-scale genomic datasets that Garvan is producing,” he said.
This research will ultimately lead to personalised medicine in Australia, reduced costs for treatments and improved outcomes for patients, he said.
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