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Bureau of Meteorology acquires Cray-zy 1.6 petaflop supercomputer

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July 21, 2015

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology's (BOM) initial plans to acquire a big supercomputer has taken a big step forward, with Cray named as the official supplier and systems integrator.

The BoM's RFQ originally went out in 2013, and last year the federal government allocated around $50 million to the project.

Another $27 million will be needed to meet the final $77 million price tag on the project, which covers the supercomputer itself, the installation, the systems integration and the overall maintenance up to and including 2021.

The system will be based on Cray's XC-40 system, with a 1.6 petaflop performance that will place it comfortably in the lead among supercomputers, at least until later systems come online.

For instance, the Pawsey Centre in Western Australia will need to leapfrog those numbers when the Square Kilometre Array project is completed in the early 2020s.

The Cray contract includes a mid-life refresh to double the capacity again, however. Such arrangements are common in these types of contracts.

The BoM's supercomputer will take it past the 1.2 petaflop Fujitsu-built Raijin at the National Computing Infrastructure. The Raijin project was completed in 2014.

While the biggest in Australia, a 1.6 petaflop HPC facility would still only put the SC somewhere in the top thirty on the Top 500 supercomputer list if it were operational today, but that's still well ahead of the fifty gigaflops of its 2010-era 4,600-core Sun Microsystem unit.

Bureau director Rob Vertessy said the goal of the new supercomputer will be better weather forecasts with higher screen resolution, and quicker, more dependable weather warnings for Australian citizens.

Seagate said earlier today it has improved the performance characteristics of its new E-Vault hybrid backup solutions, with a four-times speed boost and up to five times the storage capacity.

To be sure, Seagate's new E-Vault hybrid backup system uses on-premises appliances storing data locally and sending the rest to a public cloud service.

With this new update, Seagate is signalling the IT industry that it’s strongly focussed on getting a strong percentage of the data protection market.

This makes sense since it would involve storing data on tens of thousands of its disk drives and JBOD enclosures.

But now it appears that it’s taking on virtually everybody in the data backup segment, from Acronis through to Symantec, EMC and IBM, with the belief that hybrid backup systems and recovery is the way to go these days.

Whether it will evolve by adding file sharing, more VM-level services like cross-hypervisor conversion, and analytics of its stored data is open for debate, however.

For now, just getting a fair share of the total daily stream of data pumped out to backup targets would be good news for Seagate's management team.

E-Vault Backup and Recovery Software and Cloud Backup and Recovery Services agents get up to 400 percent speed improvement for backup, restore and replication.

The software can now handle read speeds of up to 6 TB of compressed data per hour on a single module.

Additionally, a backup image can now scale up to 2 PB, it being 40 TB before we’re told.

There is a new Backup and Recovery Private Cloud scale-out offering for managed service providers which can scale up to 1 PB in two racks of Tier 1 storage and 2 PB in one rack of Tier 2 storage.

Seagate said it “supports multi-tenancy and delivers speed, virtually unlimited scale, and high availability.

Seagate said its Data Management Services can automatically analyze data usage and suggests the most cost-effective storage tier for data, bearing in mind compliance requirements, policy enforcement and data governance concerns.

The data protection software and the Backup and Recovery Private Cloud will “be delivered by Seagate by the end of August, its value added resellers (VARs) and managed service providers (MSPs) to customers from small and medium sized businesses up through large enterprises for private, public and hybrid cloud deployments.”

Source: The Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

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