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Computing boost allows university ‘to do the previously unthinkable’

Major improvements to a supercomputing facility based at the University of Canterbury, NZ, were announced on 23 September.

The capacity of the BlueFern High Performance Computing (HPC) facility has been boosted tenfold thanks to an upgrade of its computer architecture.

“This new computing architecture allows us to think and do the previously unthinkable. It maintains our status in the international research community and, in coming months will provide Canterbury with a resource that helps us get the region back on its feet,” said Tim David, BlueFern HPC unit director.

As a result of the upgrade, the BlueGene L, a supercomputer that has been based at the university since 2007, will be redeployed solely for educational purposes along with a smaller Power 7 system.

“This will put UC in the unique position of being the first university or research establishment in the world to provide a BlueGene supercomputer for student access,” said David.

BlueFern will also offer block courses to industry utilising the BlueGene L.

The upgrade was carried out as a result of the government’s NZ$27.4 million investment in the National eScience Infrastructure (NeSI) over the next four years.

Government funding is being boosted by NZ$21m in co-investment from a consortium that includes three key partners: the Universities of Canterbury and Auckland, and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).