Dell supercomputer could unlock mysteries of the universe


Monday, 21 August, 2017


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A supercomputer powering astrophysics research at Swinburne University of technology will be built by Dell EMC.

The supercomputer will process large volumes of data coming from giant telescopes, searching for insights that could unlock answers about the universe.

The AU$31.1 million ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav) was announced in September 2016, with the mission to capitalise on the historic first detections of gravitational waves.

Led by Swinburne, it will use state-of-the-art technology to research and understand the extreme physics of black holes and warped space-time.

“While Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves, it took 100 years for technology to advance to the point they could be detected,” said Professor Matthew Bailes, director of OzGrav, Swinburne University of Technology.

“Discoveries this significant don’t occur every day and we have now opened a new window on the universe. This machine will be a tremendous boost to our brand new field of science and will be used by astrophysicists at our partner nodes as well as internationally.”

Swinburne selected Dell EMC technology for the AU$4 million supercomputer at the heart of this research. The system will be used to sift through the reams of data from Advanced LIGO, the observatory that first detected gravitational waves, to search for new examples of merger, explosions and even evidence of 1 cm ‘mountains’ on nearby neutron stars that cause deviations in space-time.

The OzSTAR supercomputer will feature the new Dell EMC 14th Generation PowerEdge Servers, Dell EMC H-Series Networking Fabric and Dell EMC HPC storage with Intel Lustre file system, delivering more than 1 petaflops of performance capability — or 31 million years of calculations in a single second.

“We will be looking for gravitational waves that help us learn more about supernovas, the formation of stars, intergalactic gases and more,” said Bailes.

Up to 35% of the supercomputer’s time will be spent on OzGrav research related to gravitational waves. The supercomputer will also continue to incorporate the GPU Supercomputer for theoretical astrophysics research (gSTAR), operating as a national facility for the astronomy community funded under the federal National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme (NCRIS) in cooperation with Astronomy Australia Limited (AAL).

The Dell EMC supercomputer is expected to take four weeks to install and will be operational before the end of September.

“Brilliant researchers are often only limited by advances in technology,” said Chris Kelly, vice president and general manager, Compute and Networking, Dell EMC Australia and New Zealand.

“With this new supercomputer, Swinburne and OzGrav will be able to embark on a new era of astronomy that could unlock answers to questions mankind has pondered for centuries. It’s an incredibly exciting time for astronomical research.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/pressmaster

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