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Australia's government-run weather experts the Bureau of Meterology will purchase a new supercomputer and datacentre following a datalink upgrade, boosting speeds from 80 gigabits per second to 200.

This year's controversial Hockey/Abbott federal budget included an undisclosed amount of funding for the new supercomputer, which will be used for powerful weather forecasting.

The supercomputer is scheduled to operate for five years from July 2016, while the funding also includes a midlife upgrade two-and-a-half years into the projected operational life of the supercomputer.

The current bureau supercomputer is hosted a data centre to the west of Melbourne, and according to the bureau's director Dr Rob Vertessy this upgrade will be the eighth such supercomputer upgrade since 1988.

"The data link upgrade and supercomputer project are elements of a significant IT transformation being undertaken by the bureau at this time, including the replacement of weather forecasting and flood forecasting systems, the development of a new storm surge forecasting system and the introduction of several new water information products and services," Vertessy said in a statement today.

"The bureau's weather forecasting process generates more than a terabyte of data each day and this will grow by a factor of 10 within the coming decade.

"Producing a weather forecast involves the collation of massive streams of weather data from satellites, planes, ships and ground stations from around the world and this data is fed into complex mathematical models that run four times per day to predict hourly variations in the weather for the week ahead."

Meanwhile the datalink upgrade, carried out by Nextgen under a five-year managed services contract, comprises two 100Gbps links between the bureau's two data centres which will operate concurrently.

The  Bureau of Meteorology said that as a mission-critical operational agency, it designs its systems to minimise service disruption. Having two separate data links ensures ongoing service delivery in the unlikely event that one of the cables fails.

"The dual path system is highly robust with high capacity and low latency links into two data centres, giving the bureau a level of service and reliability to rival the fastest of networks," Nextgen Group CEO, Peter McGrath, said in a statement.

Vertessy also said the bureau would release a weather app for Windows and iOS devices by the end of the year.

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David Swan

David Swan is a tech journalist from Melbourne and is iTWire's Associate Editor. Having started off as a games reviewer at the age of 14, he now has a degree in Journalism from RMIT (with Honours) and owns basically every gadget under the sun.

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