Amid rumours of Sun Microsystems being acquired by IBM, Sun has announced an A$30 million (NZ$37 million) deal with Australia's Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) to build one of the largest high-performance computing environments in the southern hemisphere.
The four-year deal, in conjunction with the Australian National University, will see two Sun Constellation systems installed running an open source software stack, a first for a weather forecasting site, according to Sun.
Located at BOM in Melbourne and the ANU in Canberra, the HPC environments will have more than 2500 Sun Blade (1500 at ANU, 1000 at BOM) server modules based on the new Intel Nehalem Xeon processor.
The supercomputer will facilitate a National Computational Infrastructure initiative led by ANU and jointly funded by the Commonwealth National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy, ANU and CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organisation).
National Computational Infrastructure director professor Lindsay Botten says the new supercomputer -- 12 times more powerful than the present system -- will ensure ongoing international competitiveness and provide a facility that will help Australian researchers.
ANU supercomputing facility head Dr Ben Evans says the new system will be among the world's top 30 HPC systems and has "excellent expansion capability" to meet rapidly emerging needs.
The network connection technology for the supercomputer is Infiniband and it will run Sun's HPC software stack -- Sun HPC Software, Linux Edition.
At BOM, CIO Phil Tannenbaum says the system will make the organisation "the world's first major weather service" to operate an open source environment.
"It's a move away from where we've traditionally been operating and we believe the Sun infrastructure will benefit our operational systems, as well as our research and development users," Tannenbaum says.
"We anticipated moving to open source supercomputing for the next generation, and are pleased to have the opportunity to adopt it in 2009," he says.