Over the next year, the ANU-based, National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) Facility will receive the final instalment of the $70 million dollars needed to replace Raijin. Named after the Shinto God of thunder, lightning and storms, it is currently Australia’s highest performance research computer. Raijin, was installed in 2012 and was the 24th in the world in terms of Petaflops. Which is the ability of a computer to do one quadrillion (10^15) floating point operations per second (FLOPS).
Now 76th in the world, after a bit of help from the National Agility Fund to drag it up from 121th in the world, it has a measured peak performance of 1.67 Petaflops.
This means in an hour, Raijin can perform roughly the same number of calculations, it would take 7 billion people 20 years to do on calculators.
Currently, the fastest supercomputer in the world is the Sunway TaihuLight. Which as of last year clocked a score of 93.015 Petaflops and can be found in the National Supercomputing centre in the city of Wuxi in China. A reading of almost 3 times the second most powerful in the world, Tianhe-2, also based in China.
Supercomputer is a fluid term, with there being no unanimously accepted definition. A commonly accepted definition is having 1% or more of the computing power of the worlds highest performing computer – meaning there are only around 215 of them in existence.
The most recent cash injection comes from Government’s National Innovation and Research Agenda, which has promised to deliver $2.3 billion over 10 years to support national research infrastructure. With Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel labelling high-performance computing a national priority in the Australian Government’s 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap:
“Throughout our consultations to develop the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap the critical importance of Australia’s two high-performance computers was manifestly clear”
This most recent announcement of funding ensures, more than 4000 researchers in 35 universities, five national science agencies, three medical research institutes, and industry will benefit from a boost in computational horsepower. With some of the most notable of these being the Australian Research Council, CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology as well as our very own ANU.