Australia ups ante in race to host Square Kilometer Array with new supercomputing project

Back in March we wrote about Australia’s bid to be the host site for the $3 billion Square Kilometre Array deepspace telescope project. As I mentioned in that article the SKA is expected to have a very large supercomputer supporting it

…At the telescope’s planned headquarters in Murchison shire, about 50,000sqkm that is home to only 16,000 people, would be a supercomputer 1000 times more powerful than the fastest machine working today.

HPCwire is carrying news today that Australia is investing $80M (AUD; that’s about $67M in USD) in a new supercomputing project

A new $80 million high-performance computing project launched in Perth today is a significant step forward for the joint Australia-New Zealand bid to host the $2.5 billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio-telescope.

“This collaborative centre will have a radio-astronomy focus and be closely linked with the leading-edge Australian SKA Pathfinder radio-telescope being built in WA as a precursor to the SKA project,” Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, said.

“It will build relationships with institutions like the new International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research to assist with providing the data-crunching power needed to interpret information from the Pathfinder and eventually — we hope — contribute to the SKA itself.

“The centre will go a long way towards demonstrating that Australia is ready to host the SKA. It will also boost WA’s and Australia’s wider research credentials by supporting work in other data-intensive disciplines, including mineralogy and chemistry.

I’m pretty sure that this center is what is referred to in this document as the National Centre of SKA Science. The budgeted amount seems to be for the entire facility, not just the supercomputer, and the facility is expected to be built next to the Australian Resources Research Centre in Perth. The center is also discussed in this presentation from the HPC Forum hosted by iVEC, the organization that will be running the new center, on Monday of this week. This presentation is also interesting for its discussion of other HPC efforts in Australia, which seems to be a happening place for HPC right now. Slides from other presenters at the forum are available here.

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