State-of-the-art SGI computing and storage infrastructure to support researchers at Queensland's University of Technology

Sydney 04 June 2007Delivering the assurance of a fast, reliable and future-proof solution for a new era of scientific and computational research, SGI has been selected to provide the high-performance computing (HPC) infrastructure for Queensland University of Technology (QUT). In a contract won in conjunction with Intel, the SGI HPC solution will dramatically boost research productivity.


QUT selected a hybrid SGI supercomputing, cluster and storage solution to meet its need for a state-of-the-art, multi-processor system capable of acting as a tightly integrated computing resource - yet flexible enough to serve multiple research disciplines.

The HPC solution will include a 96-core, 192GB SGI Altix 4700 shared-memory supercomputer powered by Dual-Core Intel Itanium 2 9000 series processors and a 112-core, 224GB SGI Altix XE1200 cluster powered by Quad-Core Intel Xeon 5300 series processors, both supported by a high-performance 28TB SGI InfiniteStorage solution.

According to Professor Ian Turner, co-director, Applied Mathematics and Advanced Computation Research Programme at QUT and the lead researcher on the ARC LIEF grant bid for the new system - which was collaboratively submitted with Central Queensland University and the Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation, QUT conducts a wide range of research involving large scale computation which requires significant HPC resources. Several new major research initiatives at QUT will appreciably increase computational demand.

The Institute for Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI), the largest of QUT's initiatives, is a new $70 million QUT research institute designed to undertake a unique combination of basic and applied research. The IHBI programme involves research into medical devices, health and well-being, injury prevention and rehabilitation, tropical crops and biocommodities, cells and tissue, and vision improvement.

A unique, world-class Medical Engineering Research Facility (MERF) located at Brisbane's Prince Charles Hospital, was also recently announced. MERF is a joint initiative of QUT, a number of medical device companies and the hospital, and will help meet Australia's emerging needs in orthopaedic and artificial organs research. MERF will include a Simulation Laboratory linked to QUT's HPC resources.

The Information Security Institute (ISI), which conducts multi-disciplinary research on information security, information protection and technology policies that confront the entire community, was also recently established. ISI's work involves numerous aspects of cryptography and cryptanalysis and research, all of which is computationally and memory intensive.

The Institute for Sustainable Resources (ISR) is a new initiative for sustainable living research on a local, regional and international basis. Its research focus includes the Natural Environment, such as global warming, climate, and water; the Urban Environment - regional planning - and Building research - indoor environment quality.

"All of these initiatives require computationally intensive simulations", stated Professor Turner. "QUT's research efforts are increasing at a significant rate, and these world-class research imperatives require a world-class computational and storage infrastructure."

Dr. Joseph Young, manager, HPC and Research Support, at QUT who collaborated with Professor Turner on the grant bid, stated: "These new HPC technologies will greatly enhance research throughput and help QUT to deliver innovation and research outcomes faster than ever before. We look to major HPC partners such as SGI and Intel to make sure we are always at the leading edge."

"The HPC solution QUT selected delivers computational capabilities to meet any requirement within the university", stated Bill Trestrail, vice president, Asia Pacific, SGI. "The university has a very diverse research programme, and this SGI Altix and Altix XE HPC solution will provide an environment that serves a wide cross-section of research areas, including bio-engineering, computational modelling, visualization, chemistry, bio-informatics and engineering."

With its SGI infrastructure, QUT can explore groundbreaking HPC developments such as SGI RASC technology, which incorporates field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) to cost-effectively accelerate algorithm-based applications, the SGI and Interactive Supercomputing Star-P application productivity environment, and SGI Data Migration Facility Software.

"Through its industry-standard, high-speed computation and major data management capabilities, QUT's HPC technology investment will be a fundamental step forward in accelerating the diffusion of innovation", stated Matthew Jones, group manager, Digital Healthcare, Intel. "With major initiatives already in areas as diverse as engineering and IT security to health and bioscience, this investment has clearly added a new asset that can assist the Australian research communities' global race to solve the most challenging scientific and health care problems that face our society."

SGI expects the deployment of QUT's HPC solution to be delivered by early June, with a three-year ongoing service agreement to ensure its optimal function and return on investment. More news on SGI can be found in the VMW July 2006 article New York research breakthrough on NCSA's SGI Altix system may hold key to developing new drugs to stop HIV.

Leslie Versweyveld

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