New Zealand switches on new IBM

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Late last week the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Sciences commissioned its new POWER6 p575, named “FitzRoy”.

The IBM p575 POWER6 supercomputer is the most powerful of its kind in the southern hemisphere, according to NIWA. Housed in a specially-constructed computer room at NIWA’s Greta Point base, FitzRoy’s computing power is equivalent to about 7000 laptops working simultaneously, NIWA says.

The super cost NIWA about $13M NZD (about $9M USD) and is a significant resource in the region — NIWA’s web site says that it is “the most powerful climate modelling supercomputer in the southern hemisphere.” In terms of raw computing power, however, the system is not even the most powerful in New Zealand; 5 of the 7 NZ systems on that least have peak performance of about 60 TFLOPS (WETA Digital systems). The current configuration weighs in at 34 TFLOPS, and is scheduled for an upgrade to 65 TFLOPS next year. The system is replacing NIWA’s CRAY T3E1200, so they are probably pretty happy.

The supercomputer will be used to crunch data relating to issues ranging from climate change and natural hazards forecasting to modelling the human body, NIWA says.