DSD steps into the supercomputer era

The Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) first identified the requirement for a new computer compatible with partner signals intelligence (SIGINT) agencies in 1981.

This requirement continued to be refined during 1983. It had been determined by this time that only a Cray supercomputer would provide the required increase in computing power while offering the necessary compatibility.

The project was finally approved by the National Security Committee of Cabinet on 27 July 1984.

By late 1985, the major works required for installation of the new supercomputer had been completed and the new electrical and mechanical plant had been commissioned and handed over to DSD in Melbourne. Installation of the new supercomputer was completed on schedule.

DSD had achieved another first in that the Cray X-MP/22 supercomputer was the only one of its type in Australia, and indeed in the Southern Hemisphere. Though other Crays were later to be installed in Australia, DSD spearheaded the introduction of Cray supercomputer technology into the country.

The Cray supercomputer was purchased to support, improve and modernise DSD’s cryptologic and signals analysis research and processing capabilities. The acquisition of this new computer was known as Project MARSIK.

Associated with DSD’s move to Canberra, approval was given in 1991 for the procurement of a new Cray Y-MP series supercomputer to replace the original Cray X-MP, which was assessed as not being cost-effective to transfer to DSD’s new facility.

DSD’s first supercomputer was phased out of operational use on 18 December 1992 and currently resides in one of our Canberra office foyers.

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Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connections to land, sea and communities. We pay our respects to them, their cultures and their Elders; past, present and emerging. We also recognise Australia's First Peoples' enduring contribution to Australia's national security.

Authorised by the Australian Government, Canberra