Budget 2014 - Govt funds new Bureau of Meteorology supercomputer

Last night's federal budget included an unspecified amount of funding for a new supercomputer for the Bureau of Meteorology. The supercomputer, to be used for weather forecasting, will operate for five years from mid-2016, budget documents state.

"In 2014-15 the Bureau will continue its implementation of the Australian Government’s response to the Review of the Bureau of Meteorology's capacity to respond to future extreme weather and natural disaster events and to provide seasonal forecasting services, which was released in 2013," documents state.

"Delivery of this initiative will continue to improve the Bureau's capacity to respond to extreme weather events such as floods, bushfires, storms and tropical cyclones, particularly when these events occur simultaneously and in multiple locations."

The review of the BoM's capacity to respond to natural disasters was released in December 2011. That noted that the BoM's current supercomputer has a five-year life, meaning it was due to be upgraded in 2013-14.

"This will be the subject of a bid for capital estimated by the Bureau to be in the order $38 million on a like-for-like basis, including $14 million for data storage," the report stated.

Measures to improve the BoM's weather modelling "will require a step change in supercomputing capacity," the report noted.

"The Bureau has advised that the limit of its current high performance computer will be reached in 2012-13 when Version 2 of the Australian Community Climate and EarthSystem Simulator (ACCESS) Prediction System (APS 2) goes operational. This means that no improvements will be possible during the final two years of the current system’s five year lifetime and any future improvements would require investment beyond the like-for-like scenario."

The BoM last year approached the market with a request for proposals for the upgrade of its Oracle/Sun Constellation HPC system.

BoM RFP documents released at the time stated that a potential supplier could either provide a single supercomputer capable of at least 600Tflops or two identical supercomputers each capable of at least 1.2Pflops.


Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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