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Media Release
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray

15 December 2003

Supercomputer Arrives in Melbourne


One of the world's most powerful supercomputers has arrived at the new Australian Government's Bureau of Meteorology's head office in Melbourne.

Dr Sharman Stone, Federal Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Heritage, said the new NEC SX-6 18 node 144 processor model will streamline data delivery to the meteorologists who produce the Bureau's forecasts and warnings.

"The increased capacity of this supercomputer will play a key role in vital research activities such as greenhouse modelling and climate predictions, and boost the management of data that forms the national climate record," said Dr Stone.

"It is capable of producing in excess of one trillion results per second and will mean increased accuracy in the numerical weather prediction models that underpin the Bureau's basic weather services.

"The increased forecasting capability enabled by the supercomputer will benefit the general public as well as the aviation and marine industries."

The new supercomputer is the major installation in the Bureau's Central Computing Facility (CCF) which will eventually house the bulk of the Bureau's IT infrastructure.

"The initial system will take eight weeks to install and test, five of those weeks just connecting the 80 kilometres, or four tonnes, of wiring."

The supercomputer will initially have 18 nodes comprising 144 processors, and will be upgraded to 28 nodes with 224 processors later in the year.

"Each of the 18 nodes could individually perform the same function as the Bureau's current NEC SX-5 supercomputer.

"Once upgraded it will be the most powerful supercomputer in the southern hemisphere and among the top 100 supercomputers in the world.

"It places our Australian Government's Bureau of Meteorology amongst the top five worldwide weather services regarding supercomputing power."

The CCF will also be the home of the High Performance Computing and Communications Centre (HPCCC), established in 1997 in response to a need for a shared, major Australian supercomputing facility to meet the growing scientific computation requirements of the Bureau and the CSIRO.

The CCF infrastructure is located on the fifth level of the Bureau's new head office at 700 Collins Street, in a purpose built, 950 square metre area that extends out from the main building.

"Specialist design features include a raised floor to allow for air flow cooling, dual incoming electrical supplies, highly efficient lighting, duplicated chillers and ten large-capacity air handlers to maintain an optimum operating environment," Dr Stone said.

A Very Early Smoke Detection and Alarm (VESDA) system, together with associated sprinkler works and water detection systems have also been installed to safeguard the unit.

"A separate environmental monitoring and alarm system will check the temperature and humidity in 30 specific local zones to allow early detection of potential 'hot spots' due to equipment failure or other problems.

"Security devices include an electronic doorway control system coupled with closed-circuit TV cameras and motion detectors to provide for continuous monitoring. All access records and video footage will be archived."

Dr Stone said the $30 million supercomputer project ensures that the Australian Government's Bureau of Meteorology continues to provide high quality services to the community well into the new millennium.

Commonwealth of Australia