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RMIT Opens New Supercomputer for Business

Image Credits: RMIT, Press Release

RMIT University’s Cloud Supercomputing facility, or RACE – powered by an IT service management company and the Australian Academic and Research Network (AARNet) – opened in 2022 for RMIT researchers, ­­­who are now using it to power advances into battery technologies, photonics and geospatial science. With its public launch this week, external research partners are now able to use it too.

RACE provides fast, secure and private connections ideal for workloads that require higher speed and fewer delays than the internet. The Director of RACE stated that the increased bandwidth gives researchers, students, and industry partners the ability to make discoveries faster and for RMIT to fast-track the time between initial concepts and products going to market. It will enable researchers to test out ideas and solutions up to 80 times faster compared to the existing on-premises servers. Since research typically involves many failures before success, this facility lets researchers fail quickly so they can fine-tune their solutions and improve them.

The Chief Technologist for Australia and the New Zealand branch of the IT service management company noted that high-performance computing will help solve the most complex problems across many industries. The firm’s portfolio of cloud services allows researchers at RMIT to focus on ground-breaking research, across a broad range of sectors, and innovate faster.

Meanwhile, the AARNet CEO stated that the high-speed internet and communication services provided for RACE were designed to service both current and future demand. He noted that the network AARNet has deployed for RACE is high capacity and engineered to scale to 400Gbps to provide RMIT researchers with plenty of headroom for transferring massive amounts of data to AWS on demand, now and into the future.

The new service is already making a difference for the RMIT research groups who’ve used it since July this year, prior to its public launch. Professor Michelle Spencer has used it to analyse data and communicate a new ultra-fast way to screen hundreds of potential molecules that could make suitable electrolytes for lithium-metal batteries, which could potentially increase storage capacity by 10-fold. RACE was used to analyse data and produce high-resolution animations to help interpret the data and communicate research findings.

Meanwhile, another team is using the computing power to design new ways to automatically pinpoint a person’s exact location using just a verbal description of the features around them. This approach could be especially important in emergencies if satellite positioning fails. The team can now process massive information streams including drone imagery, satellite data, data from sensor networks and crowd-sourced data that could overwhelm conventional computing facilities.

This enables them to analyse these huge volumes of data from new sources and can help better inform evidence-based policy decisions to improve public transport, traffic, infrastructure and many other aspects of quality of life, he said.

Associate Professor Thach Nguyen and a team from the Integrated Photonics and Applications Centre rely heavily on high-performance computing to design fingernail-sized photonic chips that can plug into optical fibre networks to make our internet faster or plug into medical diagnostic tools to analyse how cancer cells spread in real-time. They are now using RACE to conduct research that was almost impossible with standard computing power.

Prof. Nguyen noted that direct access to RACE means that when designing and simulating brain-like chips or creating a chip that could break the record for the world’s fastest internet, the team can run multiple processes at once with computing capability that expands, and scales as needed.

RACE provides the team with on-demand computing power anywhere, anytime to simulate their photonic chips at 10 times faster than was previously possible This work opens the door to new opportunities including the design of chips that could make the internet faster, help drones more accurately inspect railway infrastructure, and build handheld devices to detect ovarian cancer more accurately.

RACE is supported by the Victorian Government under the Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund and represents a step change in how universities and industries access high-performance computing capabilities for advanced data processing. It is is now officially open for industry partners with an interest in driving digital innovation in research and education.

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