The National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) is paying 600 million baht to buy the most efficient supercomputer in Southeast Asia, with the aim of boosting science and technology in line with the bio-, circular and green (BCG) economic model.
Anek Laothamatas, the minister of higher education, science, research and innovation, said the supercomputer, which is expected to start operations by the end of 2022, is important for Thailand in terms of national disaster predictions and forecasts.
"The supercomputer will strengthen Thailand's position in high-performance computing [HPC] and research capabilities in Asean," said Narong Sirilertworakul, president of the NSTDA.
The supercomputer will be hosted in the NSTDA Supercomputer Centre (ThaiSC), one of Thailand's national science and technology infrastructure centres that support researchers from academic, public and private research institutes.
The new supercomputer will accelerate time-to-insight and advance innovation for Thailand's efforts in agriculture, medicine, energy sources and more with advanced modelling, simulation, artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics capabilities.
It also could leverage the use of massive data through AI and build up the skills of computer science engineers and scientists, as the national plan to have 30,000 skilled AI workers requires them to be equipped with HPC skills.
"We have a bulk of data, such as agricultural maps, water, pollution, medicine and pharmaceutical, energy, genomic data of human, animals and plants, that could be utilised at their maximum and in a timely manner through AI, availability of 5G and HPC," he said.
By using a supercomputer, predictions of PM2.5 dust can be made with a calculation time of only 45 minutes, down from three months, and the conditions can be forecast three days in advance.
The supercomputer will be useful for both natural disasters and analysis of Covid-19 variants.
"The country will also save costs as many academic researchers and private sectors, including startups, normally send data to HPC services overseas, which are 2-3 times more expensive," said Mr Narong.
The supercomputer can also be used for genomics and bioinformatics for medical research that support the BCG economy model.
Palasilp Vichivanive, managing director of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Thailand, said the NSTDA is using the HPE Cray EX system to improve modelling, simulation, AI and analytics in the key areas such as agriculture, pharmaceuticals and renewable energy to bolster the country's economy and self-reliance.
The new system will also put Thailand into the top 100 in global rankings for the most powerful supercomputer, according to top500.org.