Pawsey’s new supercomputer Setonix will deliver 50 PetaFLOPS of power. Image: delivered
The Pawsey Supercomputing Center in Western Australia has unveiled the first part of its new $ 48 million supercomputer, which is preparing for a major upgrade to its current capacity.
The supercomputer is called Setonix, after the scientific name for a Quokka, and when it is fully operational by the end of next year, it will offer around 50 PetaFLOPS of computing power – around 30 times more powerful than the two Pawsey supercomputers combined.
Mark Stickells, executive director of Pawsey, said the new computer marks a major milestone in Australian supercomputing.
“Setonix marks a step in Pawsey’s supercomputing firepower,” he said.
“This new system will accelerate discovery and enable more universities, scientific institutions and researchers – as well as our industrial and business partners – to access the next generation of computing speed and data analysis.”
Setonix is going online in two stages, with the first, already set up in WA, available for research allocation early next year.
Stage two will arrive in mid-2022 and be fully online by the end of the year.
Setonix is adorned with traditional artwork by Margaret Whitehurst, a Wajarri Yamatji artist who was inspired by the night sky over Wajarri Land.
“Margaret’s design is a beautiful representation of an Aboriginal astronomy tradition that goes back thousands of years,” said Stickells.
“Margaret and the Wajarri people are the traditional owners of CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-Astronomy Observatory in Western Australia, where part of the world’s largest radio astronomy observatory, the Square Kilometer Array, is being built.”
All in all, the system will have immense computing power from its 200,000 CPU cores, 750 GPUs and 548 TB of RAM, which with an expected peak performance of 50 PetaFLOPS could be among the top 10 most powerful supercomputers in the world.
As a reference, Setonix will have the equivalent computing power of around 150,000 laptops.
Pawsey estimates that over 2,600 researchers across the country will use his network to simulate all kinds of complex physical structures in order to gain a deeper understanding of the world around us.
Researchers can hook up remotely to run programs like that of a team at Griffith University that simulated quantum dots in photovoltaic cells to find materials needed to make cheaper, more efficient solar cells.
A Curtin University researcher used Pawsey’s supercomputing cluster to develop a machine learning program to analyze soccer games.
And scientists from the University of Western Australia used Pawsey’s supercomputers to map the genome of Setonix’s namesake, the Quokka, and thus contributed to the expansion of biological knowledge.