NCI's fastest supercomputer gets an upgrade

Monday, 05 August, 2019 | Supplied by: Fujitsu Australia


Fujitsu Australia has been awarded a contract to upgrade the nation’s fastest supercomputer, intended to keep Australia at the forefront of the world’s research community.

Named ‘Gadi’, the new machine will be installed at The Australian National University (ANU) in November and be operated by the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI). Gadi means ‘to search for’ in the language of the Ngunnawal, the traditional owners of the Canberra region where ANU is based. Gadi will replace the NCI’s current supercomputer, Raijin, which was also provided by Fujitsu back in 2012.

Gadi will feature 3200 nodes and provide a tenfold increase in speed, thus providing high-end computing services that will power some of Australia’s most crucial research. Researchers from organisations including the CSIRO, Geosciences Australia and the Bureau of Meteorology in particular should benefit from these faster speeds and higher capacity compared to the existing supercomputer.

“NCI plays a pivotal role in the national research landscape, and the supercomputer is the centrepiece of this important work,” said ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt.

“The upgrade of this critical infrastructure will see Australia continue to play a leading role in addressing some of our greatest global challenges. This new machine will keep Australian research and the 5000 researchers who use it at the cutting edge. It will help us get smarter with our big data. It will add even more brawn to the considerable brains already tapping into NCI.”

To ensure the best outcome for NCI, Fujitsu has assembled a solution based on its own technology, in conjunction with technology sourced from a number of vendors including Lenovo, Intel, NVIDIA, NetApp, Mellanox Technologies, DDN (Lustre), Altair and APC by Schneider Electric. This robust technology approach is intended to sustain the needs of Australian research for years to come.

The supercomputer will utilise both Fujitsu and Lenovo Neptune innovative direct liquid cooling technologies with warm water, allowing for high-density computing. The system features Fujitsu PRIMERGY CX2570 M5 servers and will include second-generation Intel Xeon Platinum processors, Intel Optane DC persistent memory and NVIDIA V100 GPUs to accelerate deep learning training and inferencing.

The underlying storage subsystems will be provided by high-performance NetApp enterprise-class storage arrays, clustered together in a DDN Lustre parallel file system delivering terabyte-scale data transfer speeds. The interconnect network is architected using Mellanox’s latest generation HDR InfiniBand technology in a Dragonfly+ topology, capable of transferring data at 200 Gbps. ltair’s PBS Works Suite software will optimise job scheduling and workload management.

“Fujitsu is proud to be part of this important initiative, which will play a vital role in the progress of science in Australia,” said Mike Foster, CEO, Fujitsu Australia and New Zealand. “We look forward to renewing and further invigorating our longstanding relationship with ANU and NCI, which includes the commissioning of Raijin and also dates back as far as the 1980s with the commissioning of one of The Australian National University’s first supercomputers.”

The upgrade has been made possible thanks to $70 million in Australian Government funding under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).

Image caption: The NCI’s current supercomputer, Raijin. Image credit: Paul Kuske.

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