Swinburne's supercomputers have proven to be excellent research tools in areas of astronomy ranging from simulations of structure formation in the universe to the processing of data collected from telescopes.
Swinburne's supercomputer 'Green II' is a national facility providing computational infrastructure to researchers at Swinburne and astronomers Australia wide.
Green II features a compute component that is a hybrid of traditional x64 processing cores (the CPUs) and graphics processing units (GPUs). It incorporates the GPU Supercomputer for Theoretical Astrophysics Research (gSTAR), and in total comprises about 2000 Intel CPU cores and 200 NVIDIA GPUs. The full high performance computing (HPC) system can perform around 400 trillion operations per second and is linked to a three petabyte high-performance lustre storage system via a non-blocking infiniband network.
gSTAR provides the national astrophysical community with a GPU-based facility for performing world-class simulations and to enable rapid processing of telescope data. Funding for gSTAR is provided in part by an Education Investment Fund (EIF) grant obtained in cooperation with (and administered by) Astronomy Australia Limited (AAL).
Importantly, the supercomputer provides the Swinburne research community with a world-class HPC facility to enhance research endeavours. Usage has grown from its astronomy-focussed origins to now reach into areas such as molecular dynamics, quantum chemistry, atom optics and oceanography.
What we hope to do with this facility is get international recognition by doing landmark simulations of the universe, publishing that and making the data sets available to the entire world
Professor Matthew Bailes
Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development)
Green II astronomy projects include:
- Theoretical Astrophysical Observatory (TAO): part of the All-Sky Virtual Observatory (ASVO). Funded and supported by AAL, the National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources (NeCTAR) and Swinburne
- GPU-Enabled, High-Resolution, cosmological MicroLensing parameter survey (GERLUMPH): uses the GPU-Supercomputer for Theoretical Astrophysics Research (gSTAR) to generate Terabytes of map data
- Tera-scale Astronomical Data Analysis and Visualization (GraphTIVA): a high-performance, graphics processing unit (GPU)-based framework for the efficient analysis and visualization of Tera-scale 3-dimensional data cubes
- Swinburne Pulsar Portal: enables real-time supercomputing processing of 'big data'. It also provides an online tool facilitating remote access to and processing of pulsar data from the CSIRO Parkes 64m Radio Telescope, maintained on the gSTAR Supercomputer.
The supercomputer's dedicated optical fibre link with the Parkes telescope has led to the most widely publicised research outcome to date: the exciting discovery of the 'diamond planet'. Supercomputer usage contributes to approximately 50 astronomy publications per year in peer-review journals and a similar number across other Swinburne research disciplines.
Green II is managed through the Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing (CAS) and is maintained by Swinburne Information Technology (IT).
Accounts on the system are open to all astronomers at publicly funded institutions in Australia and all Swinburne staff and students. Time on the facility is split as 40 per cent for national astronomy use and 60 per cent for Swinburne-only use. Currently there are over 200 account holders spread across 40 national and international institutions. Research students regularly represent around half of the facility’s usage.
Up to half of the astronomy time is allocated through a merit-based proposal scheme judged by the Astronomy Supercomputer Time Allocation Committee (ASTAC), which is a committee of AAL. Calls for proposals are published on the AAL website and through the Astronomical Society of Australia. The remaining astronomy time is available through a general access job queue.