The Federal Government has announced $70 million will be spent to replace Australia’s highest performance research supercomputer, Raijin.

The chair of the board of Australia’s National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) says keeping the Australia’s equipment on the cutting edge was crucial to the nation’s future research needs.

“This announcement is very welcome. NCI plays a pivotal role in the national research landscape, and the supercomputer is the centrepiece of NCI’s renowned and tightly integrated, high-performance computing and data environment,” board chair Dr Michael Barber said.

“The Government’s announcement is incredibly important for the national research endeavour.

“It means NCI can continue to provide Australian researchers with a world-class advanced computing environment that is a fusion of powerful computing, high-performance ‘big data’, and world-leading expertise that enables cutting-edge Australian research and innovation.

“The NCI supercomputer is one of the most important pieces of research infrastructure in Australia.  It is critical to the competitiveness of Australian research and development in every field of scientific and technological endeavour, spanning the national science and research priorities.”

ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt said the funding would ensure NCI remains at the centre of Australia’s research needs.

“The new NCI supercomputer will be a valuable tool for Australian researchers and industry, and will be central to scientific developments in medical research, climate and weather, engineering and all fields that require analysis of so-called big data, including, of course, astronomy,” Professor Schmidt said.

Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel agrees high-performance computing is a national priority.

“Throughout our consultations to develop the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap the critical importance of Australia’s two high performance computers was manifestly clear,” Dr Finkel said.

“Our scientific community will be overwhelmingly delighted by the Australian Government’s decision today to support the modernisation of the NCI computer hosted at ANU.”

The announcement of funding ensures researchers in 35 universities, five national science agencies, three medical research institutes, and industry will benefit from a boost in computational horsepower, enabling new research that is more ambitious and more innovative than ever before, once the new supercomputer is commissioned in early 2019.

NCI anticipates the resulting supercomputer will be ranked in the top 25 internationally.