February 2006
International Cyberinfrastructure: Activities Around the Globe
John O’Callaghan, Australian Partnership for Advanced Computing

1. Introduction to APAC

The Australian Partnership for Advanced Computing (APAC) was established by the Australian Government to strengthen the advanced computing capabilities in Australia.

It is now a national partnership of eight organisations, one in each State as well as ANU 1 and CSIRO2. The State-based partners are joint ventures involving most of the Australian Universities and have received strong support from the State Governments and their members. All eight APAC partner organizations are listed at the end of the article.

APAC established the APAC National Facility in 2001 to provide a world-class peak computing facility for Australian researchers in higher education institutions. It also initiated programs to significantly increase the expertise and skills in partner organisations to support users of advanced computing systems.

In recent years, the Federal Government has supported APAC broadening its role to provide an advanced computing, information and grid infrastructure for the Australian research community. The APAC National Grid is allowing researchers to access distributed computation and information facilities as a single virtual system and is providing a new range of services to support research collaboration, nationally and internationally.

APAC’s vision is for Australian research teams to have seamless access to distributed computation and information facilities as part of the global research infrastructure. This vision is aligned with recent Government and institutional initiatives that focus on eResearch. For example, the Australian Government has established a National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS)1, which provides a coordinated approach to the deployment and support of Australia’s research infrastructure.

This paper outlines the concept and activities of the APAC National Grid. More information on APAC can be found at its website2.

2. The Concept of the APAC National Grid

The APAC National Facility which is hosted at the ANU provides advanced computing services and specialist support to over 750 users around Australia 3. Most of these users are allocated resources by ‘merit-based’ granting schemes.

The peak system at the National Facility is an SGI Altix 3700 Bx2 cluster with 1680 processors - it was ranked number 35 in the Top500 list of November 2005. The facility also houses a mass data storage system based on Sun servers running SAM-QFS and a Storagetek tape silo with petabyte capacity. The system supports a number of ‘data intensive’ projects including some in linguistics and the social sciences.

In addition to this facility, the partners manage separate facilities and play a vital role in developing Australia’s capability in advanced computing, information and grid infrastructure. They provide operational advanced computing services to their users and are involved in research, development, education, training and outreach activities.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6

Reference this article
O'Callaghan, J. "A National Grid Infrastructure for Australian Researchers," CTWatch Quarterly, Volume 2, Number 1, February 2006. http://www.ctwatch.org/quarterly/articles/2006/02/a-national-grid-infrastructure-for-australian-researchers/

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