Pawsey Capital Refresh – Reference Groups Established

In a significant step on the path towards the $70 million upgrade to Pawsey’s supercomputing infrastructure, the terms of reference and membership of key User and Technical Reference Groups have been established for the Pawsey Capability Refresh.  These have been approved by the Pawsey Refresh Program Board to direct the expenditure of funds to upgrade Pawsey’s supercomputing infrastructure.

Through periodic feedback, Pawsey’s researcher and user community, and the broader Australian research community, will inform the upgrade process, to allow us deliver supercomputing systems that will meet their functional requirements and future needs. The User Reference Group is another opportunity the Pawsey Capital Refresh Project is providing to researchers to help us shape the future of HPC in Australia.

Chaired by Dr Amanda Barnard, Chief Research Scientist, Data61, CSIRO, and Chair of the Australian National Computational Merit Allocation Scheme (NCMAS), the User Reference Group represents key HPC users and will consult more widely to determine the functional requirements and demand for new supercomputing infrastructure.  It will seek additional input as required from Federal and State Governments, Pawsey partner organisations, and academic and industry research groups working towards National and State science priorities.  The group may also contribute to the subsequent evaluation of tenders.  Group members are drawn from the radio astronomy and energy communities, health research, government, current Pawsey users and key Pawsey staff.

Based on the functional requirements and demand determined by the User Reference Group, the Technical Reference Group will assess and recommend technologies to procure to best suit these requirements.  It may also contribute to the subsequent evaluation of tenders.  The group will also provide technical advice to the Change Management Reference Group regarding activities required to support the transition process to new supercomputing infrastructure and allied services.  The Chair is Ugo Varetto, Pawsey’s Chief Technical Officer, with members drawn from Pawsey, the National Computing Infrastructure (NCI), CSIRO Business Infrastructure Services, and science and research domain representatives spanning astronomy, defence science and technology.

The Contract and Finance Reference Group will manage the procurement process to purchase the required hardware, software and services in accordance with Commonwealth procurement rules.  The group’s activities will span market appraisal and evaluation through to contract negotiation and payment to vendors on acceptance of the new hardware, software and services.  The current Chair is Jim Lilley, Director, Business Development and Commercial, CSIRO, with membership drawn from probity, legal, procurement and finance officers from CSIRO and Curtin University.

The Change Management Reference Group will develop a change management and communication strategy to encourage uptake of the new services and will support researchers in the transition to the new platforms.  Any related workforce change management, stakeholder communication and public relations around the refresh will also be managed by this group.  Announcements on the membership of the Change Management Reference Group will be made later in 2019.

The User Reference Group held their initial meeting in March, and the Contract and Finance Reference Group have already endorsed some early procurements.  The Technical Reference Group will first meet in April and will inform the Change Management Reference Group’s first meeting in Q2 2019.  Progress from each group is reported at every Program Board meeting (bi-monthly).

The Pawsey Capital Refresh is a complex upgrade and will be a staged process to ensure continuity of Pawsey’s services through the commissioning of new compute infrastructure.  The Pawsey Capital Refresh includes upgrades in Pawsey’s high-speed network backbone, high-speed storage, long-term storage, cloud compute system, radio astronomy compute cluster and the general-purpose supercomputer over the next two years.




The Pawsey Capital Refresh is a $70m project funded by the Federal Government to secure the next generation of supercomputers and data infrastructure and service upgrades for the research community.

Pawsey is highly collaborative, with operations delivered through an existing Unincorporated Joint Venture (UJV) consisting of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, Murdoch University and The University of Western Australia and also supported by Western Australia Government. As such, the granting activity is specifically dependent upon the endorsement of the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre Board of Management.