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Supercomputer To Power Leading University Research

New Supercomputer To Power Leading University Research

The University of Auckland is to buy a supercomputer from IBM that will be the most powerful in New Zealand and will give its researchers the computing muscle necessary to stay at the forefront of global research efforts.

Users will include the bioengineering team lead by Professor Peter Hunter working to create a 'virtual body', the bioinformatics initiative led by Prof John Fraser of the Department of Molecular Medicine, and the theoretical chemistry research of Prof Peter Schwerdtfeger of the Department of Chemistry.

The purchase has come about through a strategic alliance announced today in the United States between IBM Global Services and Physiome Sciences, a New York based firm that collaborates with The University of Auckland's bioengineering team.

IBM and Physiome Sciences have entered into a broad strategic collaboration to develop and deploy software and hardware to enhance biological modelling for drug discovery.

Under the terms of the agreement, The University of Auckland will purchase one of IBM's new eServer* POWER4-based supercomputer. The supercomputer is the Regatta H, 32 Processor with 32 Gigabytes of operating memory.

Professor Peter Hunter, leader of the bioengineering research group in The University of Auckland's School of Engineering, said the supercomputer will be the most powerful in New Zealand and a real asset for The University of Auckland's research community.

"Biomedical engineering industries are making a major contribution to the economies of most industrialised nations. We have a centre of excellence here in Auckland. This investment by the university and IBM will allow us to build on that strength for the benefit of all New Zealanders."

The bioengineering has developed the world's first accurate computer model of a human heart that behaves like a human heart when subjected to chemical or electrical changes, drugs or other influences.

"The potential applications of this research are enormous," Professor Hunter said. "Our collaboration with Physiome Sciences has helped bring this technology into use to streamline the process by which new drugs are developed. A model for human lungs is also being developed.

"Now with the assistance of a New Economy Research Fund grant from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, the bioengineering team will build a database of every muscle, bone and ligament in the body, with a particular emphasis on understanding and modelling the function of the knee."

The supercomputer will be installed by the end of the year. The financial terms of the deal will not be disclosed.

ENDS


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