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Swinburne flicks switch on $AU3 million GPU

120 teraflop, 757-GPU gSTAR is astronomers' new toy

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Swinburne University has brought a new 120 teraflop GPU-based supercomputer from SGI to help cope with astronomers' ever-increasing need for lots of computing power.

The 636 Intel GPU, 121 NVIDIA GPU, quad-InfiniBand machine, gSTAR, is one of just six similar grunt-boxes in Australia. The power boost over Swinburne’s previous capacity means, according to the university, that the three years’ worth of computing that eventually turned up the diamond planet could “be done in one week”.

As Professor Warwick Couch, head of the Swinburne Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, notes, GPU-based supercomputers are going to be important to cope with the coming data deluge from new instruments.

"GPUs will make a major contribution to processing data from new optical and radio telescopes, such as SkyMapper in NSW and the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder in Western Australia," he said.

Swinburne footed $AU1.9 million of the bill, with the federal government tipping in just over $AU1 million.

Australia is currently undergoing something of a science-driven supercomputing boom, with the Pawsey Centre gearing up for this country’s chunk of the SKA project, and the VLSCI in Melbourne soon to light up its BlueGene supercomputer*.

Meanwhile, Fujitsu has been signed to provide a new 1.2 Petaflop powerhouse for the Australian National University. To be installed as part of the National Computational Infrastructure facility, the machine will also be used by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology. ®

*Note: incorrectly identified in an earlier version of this story as iVEC.

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