Pawsey Supercomputing Centre to give new gear a spin

Early adopters will use Advanced Technology Cluster from June

Researchers are vying to be early adopters of Pawsey Supercomputing Centre’s new Advanced Technology Cluster, Athena.

The Perth centre – a joint venture between CSIRO, Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, Murdoch University, the University of Western Australia and the state and federal governments – is in the process of installing its new system after a vendor was selected in March.

“Pawsey is looking to the future, to try and explore novel ways to satisfy the endless thirst of Australian researchers for high-performance compute resources. Through this new platform, we can ensure that Australian science is supported by cutting-edge technology,” said David Schibeci, head of supercomputing at Pawsey.

Early adopters will have use an Intel Xeon Phi cluster with a 100 GBps OmniPath interconnect, and an NVIDIA Pascal GPU cluster with a 100 Gbps EDR Infinband interconnect, intended to allow Pawsey researchers to engage with cutting-edge technologies, and inform the eventual capital refresh of the current petascale system”, the centre said.

More than 20 research groups have applied to the early-adopter program will run from June until the end of the year.

“Access during this time is aimed at providing time on the system so users can experiment and aid Pawsey in validating and optimising the system in preparation for production use,” the centre said.

In October a tender for Athena was put together by a committee of research groups from Australian institutions that determined the required specifications.

The committee identified two technologies for Athena: Intel Xeon Phi many-core processors, and NVIDIA Pascal GPU accelerators.

SGI (which was acquired by Hewlett Packard Enterprise for US$275 in November last year) won the AU$1.5m tender, funded by the government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.

“There are a number of reasons why SGI were chosen,” said Schibeci said at the time. “They provided the best technical solution within the budget allocated for the procurement, which ensured the best value for money. This was driven by SGI’s long-standing relationship with Pawsey, demonstrating their deep understanding on the challenges that we face in the near future. SGI has demonstrated their understanding of the HPC space around Australia and Pawsey is pleased to continue to leverage that experience and knowledge.”

Athena will consist of 80 C2112-4KNL nodes with Intel Xeon Phi 7210 processors and 11 C1102-GP8 nodes with four NVIDIA Tesla P100 SXM2 GPUs.

Athena is a refresh of Pawsey’s Fornax system which was decommissioned in 2015. It will help inform the requirements for the eventual replacement of Pawsey’s supercomputer Magnus, which is running at capacity and reaching end of support from manufacturer Cray.

Magnus is the most powerful public research supercomputer in Australia and ranked in the top 100 worldwide.

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Tags edith cowan universityThe University of Western AustraliaCurtin UniversityCrayMurdoch UniversitySGIHewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)Pawsey Supercomputing CentreCSIRO

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