NIWA buys $12.7 million IBM supercomputer

Most powerful climate research computer in Southern Hemisphere.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) is about to buy an IBM supercomputer to use in environmental forecasting. NIWA chief executive John Morgan says the IBM Power 575 supercomputer will cost $12.7 million. He adds that it is the most powerful climate research computer of its type in the Southern Hemisphere.

“We have no doubt it will provide benefits for all New Zealanders, as accurate environmental forecasting is essential for the future growth of New Zealand’s most important industries,” he says.

“Industries that are climate-sensitive, such as the energy sector, farming, horticulture and tourism, will benefit directly from NIWA’s ability make more accurate forecasts. The new supercomputer will also us to improve early warnings of the effects of severe events, such as flooding and storm surges.”

According to IBM, the supercomputer has 100 times the computational power of NIWA’s current supercomputer and 500 times the storage. It will also be used to simulate New Zealand’s past, present and future climate.

IBM NZ managing director Jennifer Moxon says NIWA plans to undertake complex research using the supercomputer.

“New Zealand’s future competitiveness and economic growth depends on this ability to innovate, and high performance computing drives more innovation than any other technology,” she says.