iVEC and Pawsey Centre Taking Full Advantage of Cray Systems


The Pawsey Centre in Perth is one of the preeminent supercomputing facilities in Australia. The centre was built with the specific purpose to host supercomputing systems and support the advanced scientific research that these technological powerhouses can accomplish. Managed under the auspices of iVEC  – the Pawsey Centre plays host to several supercomputers, including two Cray® XC30™ systems nicknamed “Magnus” and “Galaxy”. iVEC, which is an unincorporated joint venture between CSIRO, Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, Murdoch University and the University of Western Australia and is supported by the Western Australian Government, has been taking advantage of the resources at the Pawsey Centre to complete groundbreaking simulations in a variety of fields. In particular – as highlighted at the recent iVEC Annual Symposium 2014– two projects leveraging the systems at the Pawsey Centre’s XC30 systems stood out.

The Canonical Simulation of Respiratory Airflow
The human lung is an incredibly complex organ that researchers have been studying through simulations for quite some time. Using Magnus and OpenFOAM, a third party computational fluid dynamics application, Ben Mullins from Curtin University and a team of researchers were able to create a three-dimensional model of the lung that was able to simulate expansion and contraction. This realistic simulation of the lung was used to analyze how aerosol medications move through the lung and compare different types of aerosol medication models.

The simulation was the most realistic modeling project of the lung ever created for research and featured the ability to incorporate computation fluid dynamics efforts into the study. This research is specifically aimed at optimizing aerosol medication delivery, analyzing the impact of invasive lung surgery and study how air pollutants move through the lungs.

Heats of Formation of Corannulene and C60
The smallest fullerene, C60, has presented many challenges for researchers attempting to analyze the material. In particular, figuring out the experimental heat of formation for the fullerene has proven difficult. A collaborative team featuring Amir Karton of the University of Western Australia used Galaxy to support analysis in this field of study and achieved considerable results.

In the past, compute operations pertaining to the smallest fullerene using a high-performance computing system and popular software took approximately 18 days per simulation. The simulation, at the time, cost approximately 439 node hours.

Karton and the collaborative iVEC research team at Pawsey attempted to tackle the same simulations, but this time using the Cray XC30 Galaxy system in conjunction with the NWChem, computational chemistry software. This time, the entire simulation took just one hour and only cost 64 node hours.

Considering the Potential of Magnus and Galaxy
The Magnus and Galaxy systems at the Pawsey Centre both offer considerable potential as powerful systems to support advanced research across a wide range of disciplines.

Magnus and Galaxy provide 69 and 200 teraFLOPS of peak computing performance, respectively.    In particular, Galaxy is used for a variety of research efforts, but primarily as a real-time computing solution to work in conjunction with the Square Kilometre Array projects that have already been underway in Western Australia.

Cray has long been committed to providing solutions at the cutting edge of science and research. The Pawsey Centre and iVEC are working on some of the most advanced projects in the world, and they are achieving their goals with the help of Cray XC30 systems.

Jane Perederey, Application ISV Manager 


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