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Supercomputers to fire up with funding

Supercomputers to fire up with funding

Australia's premier supercomputing facility will increase its computational capacity by up to 10 times following an injection of $29 million in government funding.

Spread over four years, the funding for the Australian Partnership for Advanced Computing (APAC) should arrest the national supercomputing facility's recent slide in international rankings, said John O'Callaghan, executive director of APAC.

"It's what we expected," O'Callaghan said of the funding. "About half of this money will be used to increase the capacity of the system."

The facility, based at the Australian National University in Canberra, fell from a ranking of 31 in 2001, to 164 last November. O'Callaghan said the renewed funding should boost the supercomputer's capacity by up to 10 times, and help it climb back up the rankings.

He said it is critical that Australian facilities keep pace with overseas ones, as national research opportunities depended on it.

For example, the funds would also be used to continue work on connecting APAC supercomputers for grid computing, he said.

This year APAC began six application projects in fields such as astronomy, geoscience and bioinformatics to try and give researchers in different locations seamless access to datasets residing on another computer. Visualisation projects and videoconferencing were another area where grid computing would allow researchers in different locations to see the same video.

"In astronomy it's important that the Australian Virtual Observatory needs to be compatible with international ones to have access to that [overseas] data," O'Callaghan said.

The renewed APAC funding builds on the government's $19.5 million contribution in 2000 to establish APAC.

The government's Systemic Infrastructure Initiative also recently provided the Australian Research and Education Network with $69 million, and $22 million for the Australian Research Information Infrastructure Committee.

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