Defence is in the final stages of procuring a head contractor to lead the construction of a new high performance computing centre in South Australia.
Construction on the HPC centre is expected to begin in mid-2019 and be completed late next year.
Defence industry minister Senator Linda Reynolds and assistant defence minister Senator David Fawcett said the government had earmarked $68 million for the project, which will be based at the Defence Science and Technology (DST) site in Edinburgh.
The new HPC facility will facilitate “advanced research, development, modelling and experimentation,” a Department of Defence submission to a 2018 parliamentary inquiry said.
The facility will provide DST and the Australian Defence Organisations “with a secure capability for high fidelity modelling and simulation it currently does not possess”.
The project was originally launched in 2006, with funds approved in late 2010. However, the project was suspended until November 2015 due to funding constraints before recommencing with the release of the 2016 Defence White Paper and the accompanying Defence Integrated Investment Program.
“New investment will establish a centralised networked supercomputer capability that will support advanced research, development, modelling and experimentation across Defence,” the 2016 DIIP said.
The recommencement of the project “led to an analysis of high performance computing capability needs, which recognised that DST required a secure computer centre with sufficient physical capacity to house future specialised high performance computing infrastructure and access to DST’s classified research networks,” the 2018 report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works noted.
As a result the project was integrated into a DST plan to replace its existing Edinburgh secure computer facilities.
The project will involve the construction of a data centre housing the new HPC capabilities and co-located visualisation facilities that will “encompass secure visualisation and auditorium facilities as well as training rooms and laboratory facilities,” the report said.
“The works will deliver the new fit for purpose facility,” Fawcett said. “The head contractor will also be responsible for procuring and managing subcontractors to construct the works.”
“Consistent with the Defence Policy for Industry Participation, the head contractor will develop a Local Industry Capability Plan to maximise the opportunities for local businesses to be involved in the project, both directly through sub-contract packages and indirectly through manufacturing, supply and transportation of the equipment and materials,” the assistant minister said.