National Computational Infrastructure

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Message from the Director

Welcome to the first in a sequence of monthly newsletters from NCI, and of course the first and last of 2013.  We would like to shape the content of the newsletter to meet your requirements and expectations and so we invite you to send suggestions, and to provide feedback.

As you may know, NCI has evolved in recent years from being exclusively a supercomputer centre to what is now a comprehensive and integrated provider of high-end computing services that encompass a petascale supercomputer, a data-intensive cloud, and a large, high-performance storage installation. More importantly, the infrastructure and services have been tailored to meet the gamut of requirements for computationally- and data-intensive research in Australia, and to meet the objectives of national organisations and research centres in particular areas of national priority. 

In coming newsletters, we will highlight the outcomes and successes of some of the high-impact research that is reliant on NCI facilities (provided by the Australian Government through its NCRIS and Super Science initiatives), and the expertise of the NCI operations and specialised support teams. 

The past two years have seen a number of major infrastructure milestones including the:

  • commissioning of the new data centre in November 2012,
  • the installation of the 1.2 petaflop Fujitsu supercomputer (Raijin), its commissioning and availability for general usage from June 2013,
  • a very successful launch of these facilities in July 2013 by the then Minister for Innovation, Industry Science and Research, Senator, thh Hon. Kim Carr,
  • the upgrading during 2013 of the cloud infrastructure to support data-intensive research, culminating in the commissioning of a 3,200 core Dell high-performance node of the NeCTAR research cloud in early 2014,
  • the complete redevelopment of the persistent storage system (including a node of the RDSI project), which now includes a high-performance parallel (Lustre) filesystem, the bandwidth of which matches that of the previous supercomputer (Vayu), and which by early 2014 will have a capacity that exceeds 10 petabytes. 

Matching these infrastructure developments has been significant growth in size of the NCI team: to enhance the robustness of operations, to increase the extent of the support that can be provided to an increasing user base, and to extend the research service innovation for which NCI is known.  There are new specialist appointments in HPC applications support and data management in the pipeline, and we will tell you more about the exciting projects that are planned in both future newsletters, and on the recently redeveloped website (www.nci.org.au), and Facebook page. 

I must also acknowledge the enormous contribution that is made by the organisations that form the NCI Collaboration, which sustains NCI’s operations and services through co-investment that totals around $11M per annum.   These include The Australian National University, CSIRO, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia, a consortium of research-intensive universities (Adelaide, Monash, UNSW, Queensland, Sydney and ANU) supported by the Australian Research Council, the Intersect consortium of NSW universities (supported by the ARC), the QCIF consortium of Queensland universities. we also gratefully acknowledge the  Australian Government for the contribution to be made through the recent NCRIS 2013 allocations.  The  Collaboration has been growing progressively since 2008, and it is with real pleasure, as we prepare for the New Year, that we announce and welcome the latest inclusion: Deakin University, in Victoria.

In closing, we wish each of you a very happy and relaxing holiday season, and a successful New Year in 2014, particularly in your engagement with NCI.

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