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Supercomputer to power AUT space research

A supercomputer once used by Weta Digital to render effects for Peter Jackson’s movie King Kong has found a new home at Auckland University of Technology’s Institute for Radio Astronomy and Space Research.

The computer has been donated to the university by Telecom’s IT services arm Gen-i, but most of the 200 Blade servers haven’t landed from their original owner’s home: they’ll be housed at Telecom’s Satellite Earth Station in Warkworth.

AUT operates two radio telecopes at the site and the donation opens the opportunity to gather data to correlate with that collected by telescopes in other countries. It would use that data to monitor tectonic plates, determine paramaers of Earth’s rotation, investigate the physics of active galactic nuclei/supermassive black holes and quasars, cosmic masers (natural amplifiers of microwave emission from atoms and molecules in galaxies) and star formations in the Milky Way.

AUT will also use the machine to support its work on the Square Kilometre Array project, which explores the universe using the world’s biggest radio telescope.

The rest of the supercomputer’s servers will be used by students studying high performance computing a AUT’s School of Computer and Mathematical Sciences in Auckland.

“It’s always preferable that we donate rather than send equipment to be scrapped for parts, and in this case we’re absolutely delighted that this supercomputer will now be used to boost critical research projects as well as contribute to student learning,” says Gen-i CEO Tim Miles.

Telecom and AUT already cooperate at the Warkworth site, with a 30m satellite dish converted into a radio telescope antenna and given to AUT to study star formation and the Milky Way.

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