Guest Article - Pawsey Supercomputing Centre

Powering the next generation of Australian research

Committee for Perth member, the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, has recently announced it has selected Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to deliver its new supercomputer, which will power future high-impact Australian research projects by delivering 30 times more compute power than predecessor systems Magnus and Galaxy.

The new supercomputer will be at least 10 times more power efficient than its predecessors, and at 50 petaFLOPS will be a 30-fold increase in computing power. Pawsey expects the new system’s energy requirements will only increase by 50 per cent once the system is fully commissioned.

Today, more than 1,600 researchers use Pawsey’s supercomputers directly to support their computing-intensive projects, including discovering new galaxies, developing improved diagnostic tests for coronaviruses, and finding AI-enabled ways to reduce herbicide use.

Mark Stickells, Director of the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, said the new system will help propel the position of Australian research on the global stage. “Supercomputers like those at Pawsey are increasingly crucial to our ability to conduct world-class, high-impact research. The upgrades we’re announcing are a critical move in strengthening Australia’s position in the global research environment and plays a part in major global research projects, from helping in the fight against COVID-19 to working with the precursor telescopes to the Square Kilometre Array,” he said.

“The new supercomputer will not only deliver next generation compute power to meet these growing requirements, it will enable entirely new research projects with global reach and impact.” he said.

The upgrading of the supercomputer will significantly boost Pawsey’s national effort, elevating the role of Australian research on the global stage and creating research opportunities benefiting Western Australia, the nation and the world.

The new supercomputer will help meet the exponentially increasing computing needs of Australian researchers in fields such as medicine, artificial intelligence, radio astronomy and more.

Dr Chenoa Tremblay, Postdoctoral Fellow in Dark Magnetism at CSIRO, is using Pawsey’s existing supercomputing systems to analyse extremely sensitive radio telescope signals that could give us our first potential evidence of life outside our solar system. Her team’s work requires scanning more than ten million stars and analysing hundreds of terabytes of data, a herculean task that will be accelerated with the new supercomputer.

“Doing this on my laptop would take 25 years,” Dr Tremblay said. “Pawsey’s supercomputing systems have brought some of our research timelines from years down to days, giving us the power we need to analyse hundreds of thousands of images quickly. With the signals being very weak, finding new ones will require even more data to crunch.”

The new supercomputer is part of Pawsey’s Capital Refresh Program, which is being delivered under a $70 million grant from the Australian Government announced in 2018 to upgrade Pawsey’s supercomputing infrastructure.

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This article has been submitted by the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre

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The Committee For Perth acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.