Whenever Australia gets a new supercomputer, a data processing angel gets its wings. OK, that’s not true. But we’re always happy to hear about new supercomputers, and the gStar system being built for Swinburne University’s Centre For Astrophysics And Supercomputing sounds like a doozy.
The centre's existing equipment has a 10 teraflop capacity, which is nothing to sneeze at. That technology was used to help generate the clip below:
However, as Dr Jonathon Kocz explained at Intel's Australian Xeon launch yesterday, the replacement gStar system, which is currently about "half-done", will be able to run at 130 teraflops.
Kocz's area of research is pulsars, which generate ludicrous amounts of data. Pulsars are incredibly dense stars; as Kocz pointed out, "a teaspoon of their material would weigh more than a tonne". The volume of data requires real-time processing, which in turn demands mammoth capacity. Kocz has seen notable performance improvements with the latest processor rounds, but as he points out, given that telescopes are real-time when you look at them, getting data processing to perform at the same level remains a crucial goal. Bring on the teraflops!