NIWA supercomputer goes live

IBM powerhouse officially named after 19th century scientist

The new $12.7 million supercomputer purchased by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Sciences last year has been officially switched on.

The IBM p575 POWER6, named “FitzRoy” by NIWA, is “one of the most significant single investments in science in New Zealand and will provide benefits for all New Zealanders,” NIWA chief executive John Morgan says in a statement from NIWA announcing the go-live.

The supercomputer will be used to crunch data relating to issues ranging from climate change and natural hazards forecasting to modelling the human body, NIWA says.

The IBM p575 POWER6 supercomputer is the most powerful of its kind in the southern hemisphere, according to NIWA. Housed in a specially-constructed computer room at NIWA’s Greta Point base, FitzRoy’s computing power is equivalent to about 7000 laptops working simultaneously, NIWA says.

The statement continues: “FitzRoy will be available for use by scientists around the country, enabling them to conduct research on grand challenge problems in the fields of energy, weather and climate modelling.

Under the international Physiome project co-led by project leader Professor Peter Hunter, University of Auckland bioengineers will put it to work on creating computer models of the human body. The models will incorporate biochemistry, biophysics and the anatomy of cells, tissue and organs to provide new approaches to diagnosing and treating patients and to help in the development of new medicines.”

The supercomputer has been named FitzRoy in memory of Robert FitzRoy, the 19th century scientist, surveyor and hydrographer.

More information about it can be found here.

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