CSIRO seeking Linux cluster for SKA high performance computer

CSIRO will spend up to $5 million on a Linux-based high performance computing system to help boost research efforts at the Pawsey Centre for SKA Science in Perth.

The Pawsey High Performance Computer (HPC) 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.

To achieve this, the Pawsey Centre HPC is looking to kick off what CSIRO is calling Stage 1A — a "high-availability container-based Linux cluster with a high speed, low latency interconnect, globally accessible file system, UPS and appropriate cooling infrastructure including a minimum five year warranty" high performance computing system.

The system is to be housed at the iVEC Informatics Facility at Murdoch University, South Street campus. iVEC is a joint venture between CSIRO and Murdoch University, Edith Cowan University, Curtin University of Technology and the University of Western Australia.

Users of the Stage 1A system are expected to include researchers in the nanotechnology, marine science, bioinformatics, resources and radio astronomy fields.

"A major focus of the system is to provide these user communities a resource that will allow them to scale their codes up from the hundred or so processors that they currently use to many hundred or thousands of processors," tender documents read.

"This is a vital step on the path to petascale computing that iVEC will deliver through the Pawsey Centre in 2013."

The SKA project is expected to present enourmous engineering challenges with huge amounts of data being created that require massive amounts of processing power and storage in order to create useful information.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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