February 28, 2024

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Supercomputers to boost New Zealand’s scientific research

A newly opened super-computing facility will be enabling scientists to better understand everything from earthquakes to climate change, according to a recent report.

The new High Performance Computing Facility of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric (NIWA) Research is supercharging New Zealand science.

It is powering the researchers who are working at the forefront of the country’s greatest science challenges.

The Facility comprises of three new interconnected Cray supercomputers.

Two of these, Māui and Mahuika, are based in the Institute’s Wellington campus while Kupe is based at the University of Auckland’s Tamaki Data Centre.

Together, they are capable of processing more than two thousand trillion calculations per second.

These supercomputers are a significant upgrade with 10 times the computing capability of its predecessor.

They will be able to meet the needs of the country’s researchers as they investigate scientific issues of national significance.

The Science and Innovation Minister, who formally opened the facility, described the new facility as a “step change” for science in New Zealand.

This will provide a whole range of benefits for scientific research, which will include better understanding of issues around climate change, genomics, the management of New Zealand’s freshwater assets and resilience to natural hazards.

One of the key uses of the facility is to advance weather forecasting, thereby enabling more precise forecasts and helping refine forecasting of climate extremes and hazardous events.

Improved weather forecasts will enhance the ability of critical services, such as Fire and Emergency New Zealand, to both identify and manage hazards.

Moreover, it will help farmers and environmental managers make more informed decisions using the best information available.

The facility has the ability to carry out data-intensive research at a vast scale, through to specialised software to underpin research on machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).

This NZ$ 23 million investment represents some of the world’s most advanced supercomputing power and has been made possible by a strong collaborative initiative between NIWA and the New Zealand eScience Infrastructure (NeSI).

The capabilities and potential have extended enormously since the Institute received the country’s first supercomputer almost 20 years ago.

Interesting information about the facility includes how it contains more than 14 petabytes of high performance storage.

It also has 200 petabytes of archive storage and all scientific data is fully backed up.

The facility housing for Māui and Mahuika, in Wellington, features the latest heat transfer technology cutting cooling costs by half.

Also, the facility has been specially constructed to withstand both seismic and tsunami threats.

Additional facts on the facility can be found here.

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