The University of Canterbury, New Zealand, will be the first research institution in the Southern Hemisphere to have an IBM Blue Gene supercomputer, putting it among elite research-led universities such as Harvard University, Princeton University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States.
The acquisition of the Blue Gene/L was approved by the University of Canterbury Council at its monthly meeting last night. It will be installed in July.
In announcing the decision, Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Sharp said the Blue Gene, which the University has dubbed ‘Blue Fern’, demonstrates the University’s commitment to being a leading research institution.
“Blue Fern will be one of the 25 most powerful supercomputers operating in academia worldwide. Its significant computing power will be available to researchers around New Zealand and will enable research never before possible in this country.
The supercomputer will be used by researchers at the University of Canterbury and the Christchurch School of
Medicine to address a number of crucial clinical questions about stroke and diabetesm, simulating blood flow and complex chemical reactions in the human brain, and mimic the interactions of the millions of nephrons that make up the human kidney.
The MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, Victoria University of Wellington and AUT University will be foundation partners in the Blue Gene project.
Blue Gene is optimised for bandwidth, scalability and the ability to handle large amounts of data. Its modular design allows for computing components – or “racks” – to be added as needed.
The Blue Gene installed at the University of Canterbury will have two racks and will be the most powerful system in New Zealand. It will rank among the Top 100 most powerful supercomputers in the world, based on projections for the TOP500 Supercomputers list to be published in June 2007.
Blue Gene was specifically designed to deliver superior performance per kilowatt of power consumed, and per square meter of floor space occupied. According to green500.org, Blue Gene is the world’s most energy-efficient supercomputer.