The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has signed a $30 million deal with Sun Microsystems to to build one of the largest high-performance computing environments in the southern hemisphere.

Two Sun Constellation systems will be installed – one at the Bureau of Meteorology in Melbourne amd the other at the Ausralian National University in Canberra. The installation will consist of more than 2,500 Sun Bladeserver modules (1,500 at ANU, 1,000 at BOM) based on the new Intel "Nehalem" Xeon processor. The system will run an open source software stack – a first for a weather forecasting site, according to Sun.

According to ANU supercomputing facility head, Dr Ben Evans, the system will be among the world’s top thirty computing facilities and will have excellent capacity for expansion to meet rapidly emerging needs "as we implement the next generation of high-resolution climate models that further our understanding of this complex natural system,".

(Sun Microsystems is currently in in talks about the possibility of its being taken over by IBM.)