The nation’s most powerful computer was officially launched today at the opening of the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) high performance computing centre at The Australian National University (ANU).
Named after the Japanese god of thunder, lightning and storms, Raijin can perform the same number of calculations in one hour that would take seven billion people armed with calculators 20 years.
The supercomputer is the largest in Australia, and will enable researchers to process vast volumes of data that would otherwise take years to complete, and simply not be possible using desktop computers.
“Advanced computational methods form an increasingly essential component of high-impact research, in many cases underpinning discoveries that cannot be achieved by other means, as well as underpinning the platform with which to sustain innovation at an internationally competitive level,” said Professor Lindsay Botten, Director of the NCI.
Capable of running at 1.2 petaflops (a measure of speed) when performing at its peak, Raijin can complete 170,000 calculations for every human on the face of the Earth, every second.
The computer’s speed enables researchers to run complex models. They might, for example, seek to understand the forces that bind the building blocks of our universe, to ‘supercharge’ the photosynthesis of virtual crops or to understand the dynamics of the world’s oceans and their impact on the climate.
The operation of the NCI is sustained through co-investment by a number of partner organisations including ANU, CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), Geoscience Australia and other research-intensive universities supported by the Australian Research Council, the total of which amounts to a further $50 million over four years.
Senator the Honourable Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, was joined at the launch today by ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young AO, and BoM CEO Dr Rob Vertessy, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science Professor Andy Pitman and CEO of Geoscience Australia Dr Chris Pigram.