RMIT RACE AWS Cloud Supercomputing facility fast-tracking research opens for business

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RMIT University researchers are using the RACE AWS Cloud Supercomputing facility, and external research partners can also use the technology following its public launch.

Launched in July 2022, the RACE AWS Supercomputing facility is used to develop battery technology, photonics, and geospatial science.

RACE provides fast, secure, and private connections powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and AARNet, making them perfect for workloads requiring faster speeds and fewer delays than the internet.

RACE Director Dr Robert Shen said the enhanced bandwidth enables researchers, students, and industry partners to make discoveries faster and RMIT to shorten the period between initial concepts and commercial launch.

“RACE will enable researchers to test out ideas and solutions up to 80 times faster compared to the existing on-premises servers. Research typically involves many failures before success: this facility lets researchers fail quickly so they can fine-tune their solutions and improve them,” Dr Shen stated.

According to Chief Technologist for Australia and New Zealand Simon Elisha, high-performance computing is critical to tackling the most complicated issues in various businesses.

“AWS’s portfolio of cloud services allows researchers at RMIT to focus on ground-breaking research, across a broad range of sectors, and innovate faster. Using AWS, RMIT can securely deliver advanced computer performance, memory capacity, and scalability,” Elisha said.

AARNet CEO Chris Hancock stated that RACE’s high-speed internet and communication services were built to meet current and future demands.

“The network AARNet has deployed for RACE is high capacity and engineered to scale to 400Gbps to provide RMIT researchers with plenty of headroom for transferring massive amounts of data to AWS on demand, now and into the future,” Hancock said.

The new service is already impacting RMIT research groups that have been using it since July of this year, before its public availability.

Professor Michelle Spencer utilised it to analyse data and convey a new ultra-fast method for screening hundreds of candidate compounds that could make appropriate electrolytes for lithium-metal batteries, potentially increasing storage capacity by a factor of ten.

“We are using RACE to analyse our data and produce high-resolution animations that help us to interpret our data and communicate our research findings,” Spencer stated.

Professor Matt Duckham’s team is leveraging computer power to develop new methods for automatically determining a person’s exact location based on a verbal description of the elements around them.

If satellite location fails, this strategy could be beneficial in an emergency.

Duckham claims his team can now process enormous data streams such as drone photography, satellite data, sensor network data, and crowd-sourced data that would otherwise overload conventional computing capabilities.

“Enabling us to analyse these huge volumes of data from new sources can help better inform evidence-based policy decisions to improve public transport, traffic, infrastructure and many other aspects of quality of life,” Duckham said. 

Associate Professor Thach Nguyen and his team at the Integrated Photonics and Applications Centre rely heavily on high-performance computing to create fingernail-sized photonic chips that can be plugged into optical fibre networks to speed up the internet or into medical diagnostic tools to assess how cancer cells spread in real-time.

RACE is now being used to undertake previously unfeasible research with standard computing capability.

“Direct access to RACE means that when designing and simulating brain-like chips or creating a chip which could break the record for the world’s fastest internet, the team can run multiple processes at once with computing capability that expands and scales as needed,” said Nguyen.    

Nguyen added that RACE had enabled his team with on-demand computing power anywhere, at any time, allowing them to simulate their photonic devices 10 times faster than before.

This breakthrough opens the door to new opportunities, such as the construction of semiconductors that could speed up our internet, help drones inspect railway infrastructure more correctly, and build handheld devices to accurately detect ovarian cancer.

The Victorian Government backs RACE through the Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund. It marks a paradigm shift in how institutions and companies gain access to high-performance computing capabilities for sophisticated data processing.

RACE is now available to industry partners who want to drive digital innovation in research and education.

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