One of Australia’s most powerful supercomputers is getting a major upgrade, with Swinburne University of Technology designing and installing a new space-focused machine with the backing of $5 funding $.2 million from the Victorian Government’s Higher Education State Investment Fund.
The new facility will be the largest-scale supercomputer readily available to Victorian researchers and will help unravel the mysteries of the human brain, the natural world and the universe beyond our planet.
The supercomputer will also have a Woi Wurrung name and design on its facade that reflects local Indigenous knowledge of the spectacular Southern night sky, created in consultation with the Wurundjeri community led by the Moondani Toombadool Center in Swinburne. In partnership with the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, the Swinburne Supercomputer will also develop new educational partnerships with young people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Victoria and beyond.
Swinburne’s chief scientist, Professor Virginia Kilborn, said Swinburne was delighted to be building the new supercomputer with support from the Victorian government.
“This supercomputer will allow Victoria to stay at the forefront of Swinburne’s cutting-edge research areas, including space, sustainability, medical technology and more,” said Prof Kilborn.
“By bringing researchers and industry closer to cutting-edge technology, the supercomputer will support new discoveries and ways of thinking that can help create a better world.”
After touring the Swinburne Hawthorn campus where the new supercomputer will be housed, Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney spoke of putting Victoria at the forefront of space technology, medicine and environmental research.
“We continue to support our local universities to ensure Victoria remains at the forefront of innovation and to help the sector emerge strongly from the pandemic,” Minister Tierney said.
The supercomputer will have a processing capacity millions of times greater than that of an ordinary computer, supporting the massive amounts of data generated in fields such as astronomy, medical technology, economics and environmental modelling.
Some of the key projects the supercomputer will enable include:
- Support the development of new space technologies and improve understanding of gravitational waves, black holes and galaxy formation.
- Understand how the brain works through analysis of brain data by neuroscientists and neuroimaging experts.
- Better understanding of our planet, including research on bushfire detection and natural disaster planning and response.
The new supercomputer will replace the OzSTAR machine, which has been in service since 2017.
“Supercomputers are at the heart of modern scientific and engineering challenges,” says project leader Professor Matthew Bailes, who heads both the Swinburne Data Science Institute and the Australian Research Council’s Center of Excellence for Data Discovery. gravitational waves (OzGrav).
“This crucial investment will enable Swinburne and Victoria to be competitive both domestically and internationally until the end of the decade.”
Dr Sadie Heckenberg, Academic Director (Aboriginal Research) and Senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Researcher at the Moondani Toombadool Center in Swinburne, said the Woi Wurrung name and design of the supercomputer was an important way to connect the new supercomputer to the local community of Wurundjeri and aborigines. and knowledge of Torres Strait Islanders.
“At Swinburne, we strive to integrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge into every element of what we do and work to ensure that our partnerships with Aboriginal communities are co-designed and create lasting results and beneficial. I am delighted that, through the leadership of the Moondani Toombadool Center and close consultation with the elders and community of Wurundjeri, the new supercomputer will clearly demonstrate this continued commitment.
Building on success
The facility will be supported by Astronomy Australia Limited (AAL), a non-profit organization whose members are Australian universities and research organizations with significant astronomical research capacity.
The University of Victoria (VU) and Federation University Australia (FUA) are also collaborating on the project, undertaking research in emerging industry-aligned areas such as advanced manufacturing, big data analytics and data security.
The new supercomputer builds on Swinburne’s long history of designing, developing and operating supercomputers, which includes the discovery of several of the first fast radio bursts.
It will replace the OzSTAR machine, which has been in service since 2017. OzSTAR has supported Swinburne’s research in a wide range of areas and has been a de facto national facility for astrophysical computing in Australia through AAL support, helping define the nature black holes using gravitational waves.