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The Magnus and Galaxy systems (top and bottom respectively) / Credit: Pawsey SuperComputing Centre

The Magnus and Galaxy systems (top and bottom respectively) / Credit: Pawsey SuperComputing Centre

Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Australia receives A$70 million for infrastructure replacement

The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre (Pawsey) based in Perth, Western Australia is receiving A$70 million from the Federal Government in funding for the replacement of infrastructure.

According to the press release from the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, the funds will be used to procure a replacement for Pawsey’s flagship supercomputer, Magnus, as well as the real-time supercomputer, Galaxy, as both systems, are close to the end of their operational lives.

Magnus, a Cray XC40, is considered to be one of the most advanced supercomputers in the southern hemisphere.  Galaxy is dedicated to the operational requirements of the Australian Square Kilometre Array (SKA) pathfinder telescopes, Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) and the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA).

Pawsey is a collaboration hub currently serving more than 1,500 active researchers from across Australia, involved in more than 150 supercomputing projects to deliver scientific outcomes. Nine Australian Research Centres of Excellence benefit from Pawsey’s infrastructure and expertise.

This investment is expected to enable Pawsey to continue to drive innovation and accelerate discoveries in medical science, engineering, geoscience, marine science, chemistry, food, agriculture and more.

Welcoming the news of the funding, the Chair of the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, Mr John Langoulant AO, said, “Today’s announcement, together with last year’s investment into the National Computational Infrastructure located in Canberra, will strengthen Australia’s position in the global research environment and enable Australia to stay globally competitive.”

In December 2017 the Federal Government allocated A$70 million to the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) High Performance Computing (HPC) facility to replace its supercomputer. Upgrading Australia’s HPC facilities was a key recommendation in the National Research Infrastructure Roadmap developed under the leadership of the Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel AO and delivered to the Government in February 2017.

NCI and Pawsey are currently Australia’s two Tier 1 HPC research facilities (defined as a large-scale national facility; Tier-0 supports an entire region, such as PRACE in Europe, and Tier 2 primarily supports specific institutions or disciplines). Both HPC facilities are on the TOP500 list, which ranks the top 500 most powerful computers in the world, but their positions are slipping. The international ranking awarded through the TOP500 is a proxy for the value, or capability, available to researchers.

The Roadmap noted that significant upgrades are required to this HPC infrastructure to meet future computation and data needs and that each facility has supporting physical infrastructure and expert staff that will need to be simultaneously maintained and developed.

“This is a reflection of the government’s understanding of the value that the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre delivers to the Australian scientific landscape by accelerating innovation and increasing opportunities for engagement between Australian researchers and their peers internationally”, Mr Langoulant commented.

During this new phase, Pawsey staff will continue to engage with Australia’s researchers to identify their needs which will inform the configuration of the next systems. The procurement process for the capital refresh will commence immediately and the new infrastructure is expected to be available from 2019.

Ugo Varetto, Pawsey Acting Executive Director, said, “It is an exciting time to be at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre. The investment in Pawsey will have a positive impact on the Australian research community. The Centre has already been accelerating scientific outcomes and will now be able to solve even bigger scientific problems.” 

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