Tuesday, 23 June 2020 10:30

Australia's newest Top500 supercomputer highly ranked Featured

Australia's newest Top500 supercomputer highly ranked 'Gadi' by Lynnice Church for NCI Australia 2020

Based in Canberra, Australia's newest supercomputer named Gadi has placesd 25th in the world in the latest Top500 list of the world's most powerful supercomputers after achieving impressive benchmark results.

Ranked as the most powerful supercomputer in the southern hemisphere, Gadi (which translates as 'to search for' in the language of the local Ngunnawal people) achieved a sustained benchmark of 9.26 petaFLOPS to claim position 25 in the latest list of worldwide supercomputers released overnight. 

To put this in comparison, the new world-wide number one is the Japanese Fugaku, achieving 415.52 petaFLOPS, nearly triple the performance of the previous leading machine (and almost 45 times the performance of Gadi!).

Gadi is based at the national Computational Infrastructure (NCI) facility in Canberra and will be used in a variety of research tasks in support of meteorology, geoscience, climate and fire modelling, to name just a few. It was funded with a $70M grant from the Australian Government NCRIS and delivered by Fujitsu Australia and was first announced about a year ago.

Further background regarding the name and artwork may be found here and a timelapse of the construction is here

Major collaborators on the project include the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO, Geoscience Australia and the Australian National University - all expect to utilise the system to its fullest capacity.

"Gadi will give researchers the tools to unlock the mysteries of the universe, predict and manage natural disasters, advance cancer research and design new materials for future technologies", said ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt.

Professor Sean Smith, Director of NCI, added, "The computational performance available on Gadi is unprecedented in Australia, enabling rapid response to national emergencies such as COVID-19 and bushfires that we could not have approached before.

"We have over five thousand users that rely on NCI's unparalleled high-performance compute and data services to produce world-leading scientific research. With Gadi now fully operational, these users will be able to perform their work faster, and with greater precision. Gadi is, quite simply, a critical foundational infrastructure for Australia and Australian research."

The Bureau of Meteorology is leveraging the new computational power of Gadi to produce sub-kilometre coupled fire-atmospheric models. Known as ACCESS-Fire, this model represents the complex interactions between the heat of the fire, the release of moisture, and atmospheric circulations. Such models can predict the path of a fire as well as the spread of smoke. These predictions have the potential to reduce the risk to communities and firefighters now and into the future.

"The next generation of seamless prediction systems will make weather forecasts more locally relevant, more accurate and more useful for longer periods of time" says Dr Gilbert Brunet, Chief Scientist and Group Executive, Science and Innovation at the Bureau of Meteorology.

"The Gadi supercomputer will be used to support transitioning the experimental models to routine operation. Improvements such as those from the fire model and specific event case studies are used to better plan fire suppression operations, reduce risk to firefighters and assist the community in affected areas."

Similarly, Geoscience Australia will use Gadi to run sophisticated models generating large swathes of data to estimate the risks associated with other potential natural disasters.

"Geoscience Australia, aided by the National Computational Infrastructure, is improving the safety and resilience of communities around Australia" explains Dr James Johnson, CEO of Geoscience Australia.

"Without the NCI, we would not be able to compute the huge data needed to assess the risks associated with hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis and tropical cyclones. I'm looking forward to seeing how this new supercomputer will enable further work at Geoscience Australia to ensure a better informed nation."

The Probabilistic Tsunami Hazard Assessment provides a framework for estimating the tsunami hazard anywhere in Australia due to distant earthquakes. Likewise, the National Seismic Hazard Assessment predicts the likely ground motions that may occur during an earthquake. While earthquakes are rare in Australia, they have the potential to be devastating should they occur near a large population centre.

Geoscience Australia also develops a national assessment for the hazard of tropical cyclones. The Tropical Cyclone Hazard Assessment is the basis for collaborative projects with Queensland and Western Australian emergency services where the potential impacts of future possible tropical cyclone scenarios is being investigated so that communities can be better prepared for these kinds of events.

These and many other critical environmental assessments will be improved with the technology now available through Gadi. With an increasing availability of computational power, as well as significant data storage and management services, researchers at Geoscience Australia and other institutions can perform more precise simulations, producing more accurate results.

In addition to these major collaborators, NCI also has agreements with dozens of Australian universities, ARC Centres of Excellence, and medical research groups such as the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, representing thousands of Australian researchers across the spectrum of scientific disciplines.


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David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.





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