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CSIRO sourcing hardware for Pawsey SKA supercomputing environment

The CSIRO will shortly move toward the procurement phase of its multi-stage petascale and real-time supercomputing Pawsey Centre project.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has announced that it will shortly move toward the procurement phase of its multi-stage petascale and real-time supercomputing Pawsey Centre project.

The science and research agency this week released its procurement plans for the high-end IT hardware underpinning the project. Specific technology includes tape storage, hierarchical storage management, petascale and real-time supercomputing, data analysis engines, networking and infrastructure.

Due to the complexity of the project the CSIRO intends to hold information sessions for vendors during June aimed at expediting the process of defining “state of the art systems at the leading edge of the rapidly evolving supercomputing and HPC market” and ensure all parties involved have a similar level of understanding of the project members’ requirements.

The second stage of the project was announced in March, with the agency stating that the Pawsey centre would act as a real-time processing facility for data, storage and analysis of data products from the Murchison Radio-Astronomy Observatory (MRO) and other data used by researchers in the fields of geoscience, nanotechnology and biotechnology.

Along with a rich software environment including programming tools and scientific libraries the computing environment will include a mix of multi-core processors and graphic processing units (GPU) components, to aid the analysis of data.

“The data intensive role will include high bandwidth parallel file systems to aid data intensive work, such as pre/post processing of large datasets and analysis of large collections of metadata,” CSIRO documents released in March read.

Stage one of the project was detailed in January 2010 with the agency stating that it would spend up to $5 million a "high-availability container-based Linux cluster with a high speed, low latency interconnect, globally accessible file system, UPS and appropriate cooling infrastructure" high performance computing system.

The Pawsey Centre will be used in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, which will use a telescope 50 times more sensitive than current instruments and about 3600 antennae spread over thousands of kilometres to peer into deep space.

The SKA will capture data on the evolution of galaxies, dark matter and energy, providing insight into the origins of the universe about 13 billion years ago.

The 2011/12 budget included an investment of $40.2 million over four years to continue Australia and New Zealand’s joint bid to host the global SKA. The commitment formed part of a record $3 billion in the 2011/2012 budget to keep CSIRO going over the next four years

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