Press Release – IBM
IBM today announced that it has provided extra high performance computing (HPC) capacity to the Universities of Auckland and Otago within a new collaboration called the New Zealand eScience Infrastructure (NeSI) that makes large-scale scientific computing more widely available to New Zealand researchers. Otago University is co-funding the latest purchase at The University of Auckland’s Centre for eResearch alongside Landcare Research.
The Centre for eResearch is a major partner in NeSI, a $47M, four year Government and research sector-backed initiative to provide national supercomputing and eScience services to New Zealand researchers. The other NeSI partners are The University of Canterbury and NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research), both of whom also utilise IBM infrastructure for high performance computing. Other Crown Research Institutes and universities can also purchase time on this cluster (and other NeSI resources) at a heavily discounted rate thanks to the funding provided by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
The sale at Auckland University, phase three of a four stage programme, increases the supercomputing platform’s processing capacity to around 3,000 CPU cores. IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS™) software ties the IBM System x® iDataPlex® and Linux-based cluster together, enabling efficient job scheduling for the 140 researchers currently using the platform. Migrating projects onto the centrally managed facility is helping provide a more reliable high-performance computing service, and extra staff have been recruited to manage the larger infrastructure and support the many diverse research projects that are now underway.
The Centre for eResearch supports a diverse range of research projects such as:
• Simulating the consequences of different arrangements of windmill turbines laid out in a windfarm to maximise their efficiency.
• Modelling the movements of planets and asteroids around the solar system into the future, to detect possible collisions and near misses.
• Analysing flows of airborne pollutants around a major city, from readings captured from a network of web sensors recording ozone and air quality data every minute.
The new computing power provides a significant boost for scientists previously using desktop computers or ad hoc clusters of PCs to try to scale up their research computing.
“With such an increase in computing power, we are re-setting expectations among scientists about what is possible once they are freed from the limitations of their existing computing resources. The new co-funding agreement with the University of Otago means that their researchers will also gain free access to our augmented HPC facility,” says Prof. Mark Gahegan, Director, Centre for eResearch, University of Auckland. “To help support this growth, we are building relationships with IBM’s global labs to utilise their expertise in high performance computing and apply that experience here in New Zealand.”
“We have quickly estabilshed NeSI as a national research infrastructure, tightly integrated into the research sector and delivering a broad range of computing platforms essential for contemporary science,” says Nick Jones, Director, NeSI. “IBM work closely with our team to deliver platforms for innovation at all three of our national infrastructure facilities, including BlueFern at Canterbury and Fitzroy HPCF at NIWA. With these three national facilities New Zealand researchers now have best in class capability to support cutting edge science, whether engineering, nanomaterials chemistry, drug discovery, or climate change.”
“The extra capacity will allow NeSI to meet pent up demand for advanced computing power from throughout the scientific and research community,” says Prasanna Gulasekharam, Manager, Systems & Technology Group, IBM New Zealand. “We value our relationship with the science and academic communities, leveraging IBM’s own research, technology and skills to increase New Zealand’s overall levels of research for economic growth.”
An extra 60 IBM System x iDataPlex nodes and four dual socket servers, as well as additional storage and virtual machine capability are being provided by IBM.
About IBM New Zealand
More information about IBM may be found at: http://www.ibm.com/nz/en/ 
About the New Zealand eScience Infrastructure (NeSI)
For more information, see http://www.nesi.org.nz 
About the Centre for eResearch
For more information, see http://www.eresearch.auckland.ac.nz