Monday, 14 February 2011 21:15

Australian Synchrotron and Monash University select IBM iDataPlex technology for new research facility


IBM has announced that the Australian Synchrotron and Monash University, in collaboration with CSIRO and the Victorian Partnership for Advanced Computing (VPAC), have selected IBM's iDataPlex dx360 M3 integrated server solutions to support the creation of a Multi-modal Australian Sciences Imaging and Visualisation Environment (MASSIVE) facility.

Utilising the high performance computing capacity and NVIDIA GPU technology, the facility will enable scientists to create, analyse, view and interact with high-resolution scientific images and 3D-models that have been to this point in time, too complex or large to visualise.

'Large-volume imaging capabilities are central to the scientific enterprise,' said Professor Paul Bonnington, Director of the Monash e-Research Centre.

'The advanced imaging facility, powered by IBM's GPU-enabled high performance computers, combined with a capacity for very fast processing of research data, will provide a truly unique facility to empower Australian research.'

MASSIVE which is funded by its partners, and by both the State Government of Victoria and the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) will provide scientists with the ability to undertake ground-breaking research in areas such as cancer.

The new facility will be located at the Australian Synchrotron and Monash University, and will allow researchers - across a variety of fields including biomedicine, geoscience, neuroscience, astronomy, engineering, and climate studies - to build, analyse and manipulate multi-dimensional research data.

MASSIVE will be an integral part of the Imaging and Medical Beamline (IMBL) at the Australian Synchrotron, which is set to produce very high resolution CT scans that require a high performance computer system for the processing and visualisation of scientific samples. The system will allow scientists using the beamline to process and view data as soon as it is captured.

Newly appointed Australian Synchrotron Head of Science, Dr Andrew Peele, said today's synchrotron science demanded technologies that could process, in real time, ever increasing amounts of data.

'In the case of the IMBL, which will be operating with users from the middle of 2011, MASSIVE and the IBM technology behind it will provide our users with access to state-of-the-art research facilities,' said Dr Peele.


Victorian Technology Minister Gordon Rich-Phillips said the government was delighted IBM would be part of the world-class team creating this important research facility.

'The Victorian Government continues its commitment to supporting information and communication technology (ICT) as a key enabler for the state's productivity,' Mr Rich-Phillips said.

Wayne Goss, Strategic Initiatives Executive, Research and Innovation, IBM Australia, said that Monash University's research expertise, combined with powerful scientific instruments such as the Australian Synchrotron, would put the MASSIVE collaboration in a unique position.

'It is anticipated that both of the IBM iDataPlex systems each containing 84 NVIDIA GPU's being deployed at Monash University and the Synchrotron will rank on the next TOP500 list of worldwide supercomputers ( to be published in June 2011,' said Wayne Goss.

'This acquisition further facilitates opportunities for collaboration between IBM and the Australian research community to maximise the power of GPU technology as a visualisation enabling tool to accelerate science outcomes.'

Andy Keane, General Manager, Tesla Business NVIDIA added that some of the most important scientific challenges needed to be visualised in order to be understood, especially in fields such as medicine, climate management and astronomy.

'With its use of Tesla GPUs, the MASSIVE system will be a powerful research tool for Monash University and the Australian Synchrotron and we look forward to seeing the results of their work.'

The MASSIVE facility, the first of its kind in Australia, will open in March 2011.

For more information on MASSIVE, visit:, on NVIDIA, visit:, and on IBM's HPC, visit:

Recently announced was $51.7 million of federal and Victorian government funding for the Australian Synchrotron to support the second phase of the facility's development.

Watch these videos about the Australian Synchrotron to find out more about it.

See the iTWire articles (with extensive podcasts) that I wrote in 2008 about Information technology at the synchrotron:  Australian Synchrotron, Part 1 - IT and controls, Australian Synchrotron, Part 2 - Safety, and servers, Australian Synchrotron, Part 3 - Software selection and application development, and Australian Synchrotron, Part 4 - accelerator rings and beamlines.


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Tony Austin

Worked at IBM from 1970, for a quarter century, then founded Asia/Pacific Computer Services to provide IT consulting and software development services (closed company at end of 2013). These says am still involved with IT as an observer and commentator, as well as attempting to understand cosmology, quantum mechanics and whatever else will keep my mind active and fend off deterioration of my grey matter.



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