Bureau of Meteorology picks Cray-zy fast 1.6 petaflop supercomputer

$77m rig will speed up weather forecasts, come online in 2016

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology's (BOM's) plan to buy what will be, at least for a while, Australia's biggest iron has taken a big step forward, with Cray named as the lucky vendor.

The BoM's tender originally went out in 2013, and in 2014 the federal government allocated around AU$50m to the project.

Another $27m will be needed to meet the final $77m (US$59m) price tag on the project, which covers the iron itself, installation, and maintenance to 2021.

The system will be based on Cray's XC40, with 1.6 petaflop performance that will put it comfortably in the lead among Oz supers, at least until later boxes come online (the Pawsey Centre in Western Australia, for example, will need to leapfrog that when the Square Kilometre Array project is finished in the early 2020s.

The contract includes a midlife refresh to double the capacity again.

For now, though, the BoM's iron will take it past the 1.2 petaflop Fujitsu-built Raijin at the National Computing Infrastructure.

While the biggest in Australia, a 1.6 petaflop HPC facility would still only put the box somewhere in the top 30 on the Top 500 supercomputer list if it were operational today, but that's still well ahead of the 50 gigaflops of its 2010-era 4,600-core Sun unit.

Bureau director Rob Vertessy said the aim of the new super will be better weather forecasts with higher resolution, and quicker weather warnings. ®

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