From NCI: “NCI welcomes $70M investment in HPC capability”


18 December 2017

The Board of Australia’s National Computational Infrastructure (NCI), based at The Australian National University (ANU), welcomes the Australian Government’s announcement that it will invest $70 million to replace Australia’s highest performance research supercomputer, Raijin, which is rapidly nearing the end of its service life.

NCI Raijin supercomputer.

The funding, through the Department of Education and Training, will be provided as $69.2 million in 2017-18 and $800,000 in 2018-19.

Chair of the NCI Board, Emeritus Professor Michael Barber, said NCI was crucial to Australia’s future research needs.

“This announcement is very welcome. NCI plays a pivotal role in the national research landscape, and the supercomputer is the centrepiece of NCI’s renowned and tightly integrated, high-performance computing and data environment,” he said.

“The Government’s announcement is incredibly important for the national research endeavour.

“It means NCI can continue to provide Australian researchers with a world-class advanced computing environment that is a fusion of powerful computing, high-performance ‘big data’, and world-leading expertise that enables cutting-edge Australian research and innovation.

“The NCI supercomputer is one of the most important pieces of research infrastructure in Australia. It is critical to the competitiveness of Australian research and development in every field of scientific and technological endeavour, spanning the national science and research priorities.”

ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt said the funding would ensure NCI remains at the centre of Australia’s research needs.

“The new NCI supercomputer will be a valuable tool for Australian researchers and industry, and will be central to scientific developments in medical research, climate and weather, engineering and all fields that require analysis of so-called big data, including, of course, astronomy,” Professor Schmidt said.

Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel said high-performance computing is a national priority.

“Throughout our consultations to develop the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap the critical importance of Australia’s two high performance computers was manifestly clear,” Dr Finkel said.

“Our scientific community will be overwhelmingly delighted by the Australian Government’s decision today to support the modernisation of the NCI computer hosted at ANU.”

The announcement of funding ensures researchers in 35 universities, five national science agencies, three medical research institutes, and industry will benefit from a boost in computational horsepower, enabling new research that is more ambitious and more innovative than ever before once the new supercomputer is commissioned in early 2019.

NCI anticipates the resulting supercomputer will be ranked in the top 25 internationally.

The Australian Government’s 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap specifically recognised the critical importance of such a resource, and the need for an urgent upgrade.

The new supercomputer will ensure NCI can continue to provide essential support for research funded and sustained by the national research councils (the Australian Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council), and the national science agencies—notably CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and Geoscience Australia.

This research will drive innovation that is critical to Australia’s future economic development and the wellbeing of Australians.

To view a video about NCI and the supercomputer click here.
[No image of the proposed new supercomputer is available]

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11NCI can trace its lineage back through three stages of the evolution of high-end computing services in Australia.

These are:

The Early Years: The initiation of high-performance computing services through the Australian National University Supercomputing Facility (ANUSF) from 1987;
The APAC Years: Its extension to a national role under the Australian Partnership for Advanced Computing (APAC), hosted by ANU from 2000– 07, during which national HPC service was provided from ANUSF, a national partnership was formed, services were broadened to include a range of outreach activities to build uptake, and a national grid program, and nascent data services were established.
The NCI Years: The current stage of advanced computing services that have been developed from 2007 onwards under the badge of NCI, again hosted by ANU, which are characterised by the broadening and integration of services, the evolution of a strong sustaining partnership, and the transition from high-terascale to petascale computational and data infrastructure to support Australian science.