From CSIRO -Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (AU) : “Pawsey unveils fastest supercomputer in the Southern Hemisphere”

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From CSIRO -Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (AU)

21 September 2021
Ms Gabby Russell
Communication Manager, Space, Astronomy and Scientific Computing

Stage 1 of Pawsey’s new $48 million HPE Cray EX supercomputer, known as Setonix – the scientific name for Western Australia’s cheerful marsupial, the quokka – now stands in the white space at the Pawsey Centre next to its supercomputer cousins, Magnus and Galaxy.

When fully operational, Setonix will be 30 times more powerful than the existing two systems combined, packing the punch of about 150,000 laptops working in parallel.

Stage 1 delivery of Setonix will increase the computing power of the centre by 45 per cent.

When Stage 2 is installed in mid-2022, Setonix will be able to operate at 50 petaFLOPS of power, equivalent to three times the combined power of Australia’s current Tier 1 public research supercomputing facilities.

Pawsey Centre Executive Director Mark Stickells says through Setonix, Australia is on the cusp of the biggest computing power advance in the nation’s history.

“This new system will accelerate discovery and enable more universities, scientific institutions and researchers — as well as our partners in industry and business — to access next-generation computing speed and data analysis,” he said.

“The urgent problems of the 21st Century demand analysis and action sooner than can be achieved by traditional computing.

“Supercomputing is the path to understanding climate change, tracking the growth of a viral pandemic or providing pieces to puzzles we haven’t yet begun to solve.

“Setonix marks a step change in Pawsey’s supercomputing firepower, and this additional capacity will allow more researchers and industries to access next-generation computing speed and data analysis.”

Stage 1 will see a team of early adopter researchers run code to fine tune Setonix before new allocations start in 2022.

Wajarri Yamatji visual artist Margaret Whitehurst produced the artwork for Setonix’s casing, inspired by the stars that shine over Wajarri country in Western Australia’s Mid-West.

“Margaret’s design is a beautiful representation of a tradition of Aboriginal astronomy that dates back thousands of years,” Mr Stickells says.

“Margaret and the Wajarri people are the traditional owners of CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia where one part of the world’s largest radio astronomy observatory, the Square Kilometre Array, will be built.

“Setonix will process vast amounts of radio telescope data from SKA-related projects, and many other projects of national and international significance that we are proud to support.”

Setonix is so powerful its computing power is described in petaFLOPS, representing the number of floating-point operations that can be conducted per second.

Setonix will deliver 50 petaFLOPS of power. The existing supercomputers at the Pawsey Centre, Magnus and Galaxy, together have 1.83 petaFLOPS of raw compute power.

To match what one petaFLOPS computer system can do in just one second, you would have to perform one calculation every second for 31,688,765 years.

“Supercomputers divide big problems into smaller problems that can be solved at the same time — known as parallel processing,” Mr Stickells explained.

“Our existing flagship system capacity is equivalent to about 33,000 PCs working in parallel, so a problem that would take almost a year for a single computer to solve working step by step takes our current system about 12 minutes.

“Setonix is a dramatic leap forward for Australian science.”

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CSIRO -Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (AU) , is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

CSIRO works with leading organisations around the world. From its headquarters in Canberra, CSIRO maintains more than 50 sites across Australia and in France, Chile and the United States, employing about 5,500 people.

Federally funded scientific research began in Australia 104 years ago. The Advisory Council of Science and Industry was established in 1916 but was hampered by insufficient available finance. In 1926 the research effort was reinvigorated by establishment of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which strengthened national science leadership and increased research funding. CSIR grew rapidly and achieved significant early successes. In 1949 further legislated changes included renaming the organisation as CSIRO.

Notable developments by CSIRO have included the invention of atomic absorption spectroscopy; essential components of Wi-Fi technology; development of the first commercially successful polymer banknote; the invention of the insect repellent in Aerogard and the introduction of a series of biological controls into Australia, such as the introduction of myxomatosis and rabbit calicivirus for the control of rabbit populations.

Research and focus areas

Research Business Units

As at 2019, CSIRO’s research areas are identified as “Impact science” and organised into the following Business Units:

Agriculture and Food
Health and Biosecurity
Data 61
Energy
Land and Water
Manufacturing
Mineral Resources
Oceans and Atmosphere

National Facilities

CSIRO manages national research facilities and scientific infrastructure on behalf of the nation to assist with the delivery of research. The national facilities and specialized laboratories are available to both international and Australian users from industry and research. As at 2019, the following National Facilities are listed:

Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL)
Australia Telescope National Facility – radio telescopes included in the Facility include the Australia Telescope Compact Array, the Parkes Observatory, Mopra Observatory and the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder.

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CSIRO Pawsey Supercomputing Centre AU)

SKA

SKA- Square Kilometer Array

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