Pawsey Centre supercomputing facility powers up for research

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Pawsey Centre. Photo: Woodhead

Premier of Western Australia and Minister for Science Colin Barnett has officially declared the Pawsey Centre in Perth open for business.

The Pawsey Centre is a world-class supercomputing centre, named after pioneering Australian radio astronomer, Dr Joe Pawsey. The operational launch signals the beginning of production activity for the Pawsey Centre, one of the largest science infrastructure projects in Western Australian history.

The Centre is home to Magnus, the Cray supercomputer to be used for research in the fields of radio astronomy, geoscience, marine science and other data intensive disciplines, together with massive data storage and visualization infrastructure, all of which are connected to the world via multiple 10Gbps AARNet links.

This is Magnus Phase 1 and a tour of the complex reveals that there is plenty of room for expansion to accommodate the petascale system that will power Australia’s involvement in the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio astronomy project.

Also officiating at the special launch event were Mr Steve Irons MP, representing the Hon Ian Macfarlane MP, Minister for Industry, Dr Megan Clark, CSIRO Chief Executive, and the Hon Mal Bryce, iVEC Chairman.

Dr Clark spoke of marvelling at the fact that data from SKA precursor projects such as the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) and Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) in remotest WA arrive at Pawsey in the twinkling of an eye, unseen.

AARNet built and operates the high performing network that enables this marvellous transportation of massive volumes of data.  The system is highly scalable, with ability to expand up to 8 terabits per second, and integrates tightly with AARNet’s national optical network, spanning the continent from outback WA to Perth and all the way to Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane.

In a world-first, a groundwater cooling system is used to cool the Pawsey Centre supercomputer.  This not only avoids huge power bills, but also the enormous loss of water through evaporation used in conventional cooling units.

The Centre is one of a handful of key research infrastructure projects that will provide long-term competitive advantages for Australian scientists, allowing them access to cutting-edge technology that will deliver the highest level of outcomes for the nation.

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