In early August, The Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Senator the Honourable Arthur Sinodinos visited the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre on his way to his tour of the Murchison Radioastronomy Observatory (MRO).
Pawsey Executive Director, Neil Stringfellow, hosted the Minister at the Centre, taking the opportunity to showcase the importance supercomputing and data analytics. This was highlighted not only for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project – the biggest scientific endeavour of humanity – but for the advancement of Australian science in general.
Dr. Peter Quinn, Executive Director of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) followed Stringfellow’s presentation; focusing on the data challenges resulted from the SKA. Collecting in excess of one Exabyte of raw data (equivalent to five times the global internet traffic) per day, the SKA compels state-of-the-art supercomputing power to manage the megadata generated by the project.
The Minister’s visit continued with a special tour of Pawsey, including the Centre’s white space, housing the supercomputers themselves; where the scientific outcomes from Pawsey researchers took centre stage. This opportunity helped the Minister recognise the vast fields of research being undertaken at the Centre including bioinformatics, astronomy, agriculture, health and many more.
Post tour, the Minister heard from industry representatives, academics, publicly funded research agencies and other supercomputing centre delegates on how supercomputing is contributing to advance Australia as well as globally.
These representatives included delegates from National Computational Infrastructure (NCI), Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO Data 61 and Defence, as well as high-rank representative of the astronomy community and WA universities. They had interesting discussions with the Pawsey special guest on the importance of investing in supercomputing infrastructure and the demand for skill development of the next generation of data scientists.
Carnegie Clean Energy and Bombora Wave Power are two commercial projects benefitting from Pawsey infrastructure and expertise. They stressed the great impact that High Performance Computing (HPC) has on optimising their costs while prototyping their renewable wave energy technologies. During these discussions with industry representatives, international HPC expert and Vice President of Mellanox, an Israeli supplier of InfiniBand and Ethernet technology gave Minister Sinodinos valuable insight into the international HPC industry and Australia’s placement in a global context.
Having Minister Sinodinos connect with the leading strategic thinkers in high performance computing and data analysis for industry, academia and research is a great prospect for the importance of infrastructure quality and skill development, which establishes the development of Australia and its research holistically.