Setonix supercomputer unveiled in WA

Tuesday, 19 October, 2021

Setonix supercomputer unveiled in WA

Western Australia’s Pawsey Supercomputing Centre has unveiled the first phase of what is expected to be the fastest public research supercomputer in the Southern Hemisphere: the $48 million HPE Cray EX supercomputer.

The computer, which will be known as Setonix — the scientific name for the quokka — will be situated next to Pawsey’s Magnus and Galaxy supercomputers. Once fully operational, Setonix will be 30 times more powerful than the Magnus and Galaxy combined, with processing power equivalent to around 150,000 laptops working in parallel.

The stage one launch — which will see a team of early-adopter researchers run code to fine-tune Setonix — will increase the computing power of the Pawsey Centre by 45%. When stage two is installed in mid-2022, Setonix will be able to operate at 50 petaFLOPS of power — equivalent to three times the combined power of Australia’s current Tier 1 public research supercomputing facilities.

Pawsey Centre Executive Director Mark Stickells said Setonix will represent Australia’s biggest computing power advance in its history.

“This new system will accelerate discovery and enable more universities, scientific institutions and researchers — as well as our partners in industry and business — to access next-generation computing speed and data analysis,” he said.

“The urgent problems of the 21st century demand analysis and action sooner than can be achieved by traditional computing. Supercomputing is the path to understanding climate change, tracking the growth of a viral pandemic or providing pieces to puzzles we haven’t yet begun to solve.

“Setonix marks a step change in Pawsey’s supercomputing firepower, and this additional capacity will allow more researchers and industries to access next-generation computing speed and data analysis.”

Wajarri Yamatji visual artist Margaret Whitehurst produced the artwork for Setonix’s casing, inspired by the stars that shine over Wajarri country in Western Australia’s Mid West. Stickells noted, “Margaret and the Wajarri people are the traditional owners of CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia where one part of the world’s largest radio astronomy observatory, the Square Kilometre Array, will be built.

“Setonix will process vast amounts of radio telescope data from SKA-related projects, and many other projects of national and international significance that we are proud to support.”

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