In Shinto mythology, Raijin is the god of thunder and lightening.
At the ANU’s National Computational Infrastructure, Raijin is a fifty million dollar, seventy- tonne, house-sized super computer.
Raijin has 57 000 processing cores, 160 terabytes of main memory, 10 000 terabytes of disk space and can carry out 1200 trillion calculations per second at a peak performance of 1.2 petaflops. Or, as Professor Lindsay Botten of the ANU highlighted, ‘if every person on the face of the earth had a desk calculator, and worked for a week or two weeks, 12 hour days, this machine would do that work in a second’.
Raijin will be used in climate and weather modelling, water management, phototonics, computational chemistry, nanotechnology and astronomy to name but a few practices.
The super computer places Australia in a globally competitive position. Raijin is ranked as the 27th most powerful computer in the world and the most powerful processor in the southern hemisphere. It is hoped that Raijin’s considerable utilities will encourage more Australian scientists to pursue their careers locally, rather than moving overseas to conduct their research.
One such scientist is Dr. Andy Hogg; a fellow of the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences and member of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science.
Dr Hogg anticipates that Raijin’s extensive facilities will enable him to greatly improve the precision of his research into the processes of the ocean and their role in climate change.
“It’s a very large computation to make”, Dr Hogg commented in an ANU media release with regard to the calculations required to model the activities of the ocean. Yet the exceptional scale of the computer enables researchers to generate highly accurate results by using large amounts of data to process highly complex models.
“[Raijin] allows us to run ocean models which include more and more physical processes” Hogg continues. “We are now integrating models that are perhaps ten times more resolutions than we had two years ago … to get an understanding of the climate system”
Raijin will cost twelve million dollars per year to run, with funding provided by the Federal Government, research-intensive universities including the ANU, the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO and Geoscience Australia.
Tianhe-2, or Milky Way-2, remains the world’s fastest computer. Developed by China’s National University of Defence Technology, the system boasts a whopping 3,120,000 computing cores.