Next Generation National Facility

The following email was circulated on July 19, 2008 to users of National Facility systems to inform them of imminent upgrades planned for the capability systems.

Dear National Facility User

As a member of the user community of the National Facility, you will be interested to learn of developments relating to the replacement of the present peak system, AC. Earlier this year the Australian National University (as host of the National Facility), CSIRO, and the Bureau of Meteorology agreed to work together on a procurement of national high performance computing facilities. This was prompted by the need for computational platforms to support new collaboration in climate and earth systems research.

The joint procurement process will renew the peak system at the National Facility and also provide for a new supercomputer to meet the operational forecasting requirements of the Bureau. The performance of the new National Facility system will be roughly an order of magnitude greater than that of the current SGI Altix. It will meet the broad needs of the research community and, together with the Bureau's operational system, will provide an integrated, interoperable environment for ACCESS - the Australian Community Climate and Earth Systems Simulator.

The joint tender was let on April 3 and closed on May 29. The evaluation process involves representatives of ANU, CSIRO and the Bureau. The evaluation should be completed in early August, after which separate contracts with a single preferred tenderer can be let by ANU and the Bureau. The aim is to install the new peak facility at ANU in April 2009, with acceptance testing taking place in July 2009.

In addition to this, a tender has been released to install an HPC system (at the National Facility) to provide for the much needed additional cycles between now and the installation of the next peak system. This system will be a substantial Linux cluster with an Infiniband interconnect and a Lustre filesystem. This should be available by the end of August. It will both alleviate the current pressure on the SGI Altix and provide for new and existing projects to undertake computational research.

We will keep you informed of further developments as they arise.

Prof Lindsay Botten
Director, National Computational Infrastructure

Dr Ben Evans
Manager, National Facility