Tag Archives: Pawsey Supercomputing Centre

supercomputer

Supercomputer empowers scientists

Creating commercial drugs these days seems to require more time at the keyboard than in the lab as these drugs can be designed on a computer long before any chemicals are combined.

Computer-based simulations test the design created by the theoretical chemist and quickly indicate any potential problems or enhancements.

This process generates data, and lots of it. So in order to provide University of Western Australia (UWA) chemistry researchers with the power to perform these big data simulations the university built its own supercomputer, Pople.

Dr Amir Karton, head of UWA’s computational chemistry lab says the supercomputer is named after Sir John Pople who was one of the pioneers of computational chemistry for which he won a Nobel Prize in 1998.

“We model very large systems ranging from enzymes to nano materials to design proteins, drugs and catalysts, using multi-scale theoretical procedures, and Pople was designed for such simulations,” Karton says.

“These simulations will tell you how other drugs will interact with your design and what modifications you will need to do to the drug to make it more effective.”

Pople was designed by UWA and while it is small compared to Magnus at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre it gives the researchers exactly what they want.

That being a multi-core processor, a large and very fast local disk as well as 512 GB of memory in which to run the simulations.

Magnus’ power equivalent to 6 million iPads

While Magnus has nearly 36,000 processors—processing power equivalent to six million iPads running at once—Pople has just 2316 processors.

But, Magnus was designed with large computational projects like the Square Kilometre Array in mind whereas Pople provides such services to individual users.

Dr Dean Taylor, the faculty’s systems administrator says the total amount of memory available to Pople amounts to 7.8 TB, and the total amount of disk space is 153 TB, which could fill almost two thousand 80 GB Classic iPods.

By comparison a top-of-the-range gaming PC might have four processors, 16 GB of memory and a 2 TB disk drive.

A large portion of the Intel Xeon processors (1896 cores) were donated by Perth-based geoscience company DownUnder GeoSolutions.

DownUnder GeoSolutions’ managing director Dr Matthew Lamont says it is the company’s way of investing in the future.

Pople will also assist physics and biology research involving the nature of gravitational waves and the combustion processes that generate compounds important for seed germination.

– Chris Marr

This article was first published by ScienceNetwork Western Australia on 30 April 2016. Read the original article here.

Telescope project funding boost

Featured photo above by Rob Millenaar

The Curtin University-led Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope project has been awarded an Australian Research Council (ARC) grant to upgrade its performance by a factor of ten.

The $1,000,000 grant, part of the ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) scheme, announced today by the Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, will double the number of telescope antennas to 256 and quadruple the footprint of the MWA to 28 square kilometres.

Professor Steven Tingay, Director of the MWA at Curtin University, says the upgrades would make the telescope ten times more powerful in its exploration of the evolution of the Universe.

“By increasing the number of telescope antennas and the surface area of the MWA, the telescope will strengthen tenfold, like a weightlifter capable of lifting 100 kg suddenly being able to lift 1000 kg,” says Tingay.

Tingay described the MWA as a ‘time machine’ designed to look back in time more than 12 billion years, to watch the formation of the first stars and galaxies in the Universe, less than one billion years after the Big Bang.

“The MWA has been operating for almost three years and has collected over seven petabytes of data already, the equivalent of almost half a million High Definition movies,” he says.

“With the upgrade that this grant provides, we will able to collect even more and better data, helping to advance our understanding of the last unstudied phase of cosmic evolution.”

An international consortium of 15 organisations from Australia, USA, India and New Zealand built and operate the MWA, led by Curtin University.

As a result of the new funding, two new organisations will be added to the MWA consortium; Western Sydney University and the University of Toronto, Canada, increasing the MWA’s national and international reach.

The MWA is one of three official precursor telescopes for the much larger, billion-dollar scale Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and is the only SKA precursor to be fully operational for science. Half of the SKA will be built at the same site as the MWA, the CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, over the next decade.

Key science, engineering and computing developments for the SKA are being tested and verified by the MWA, providing critical expertise to the SKA project. This includes working closely with key national initiatives such as the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre.

In the last two years, more than 70 scientific publications have been developed from MWA data. The MWA team also recently won a prestigious award for the telescope’s scientific impact from Thomson Reuters.

– April Kleer

This article was first published on 30 October by Curtin University. Read the original article here.