Sun initiated the rollout of South Africa’s largest high performance computing solution at the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) in Cape Town, with local partners Eclipse Networks and Breakpoint Solutions.
This follows from the award of the CHPC second phase tender to Sun and its partners to provide the infrastructure for Phase II of this high performance computing facility in South Africa. The CHPC is funded by the South African Department of Science and Technology, and managed by the Meraka Institute of the CSIR.
The proposed end-to-end solution is based on a hybrid architecture that provides an estimated 27 teraFLOPS of peak computing power. At the core of this computing power, is a Sun SPARC Enterprise M9000 server with 64 SPARC64 VII quad-core processors, and a cluster of four Sun Blade 6048 Modular Systems, to be delivered in two stages. Stage one consists of one Sun Blade 6048 Modular System with 48 blades based on Intel Xeon E5450 processors, and stage two consists of three Sun Blade 6048 Modular Systems that house 144 blades based on the next-generation Intel Xeon processor. (code named Nehalem).
At the front-end, Sun will be providing the CHPC with the Sun Visualization system which allows for users to assemble and view 3D models of their data. The Open Storage solution is based on ten AMD Opteron-powered Sun Fire X4540 Open Storage servers, providing 480 Terabytes of data with the Lustre parallel file system for extreme I/O performance and reliability.
Rounding the hardware part of the solution out, all of the components will be connected via a Voltaire Infiniband switch. Software for the solution consists of Sun HPC software, Linux Edition, Sun xVM Ops Center and software from Totalview.
Hardware for the CHPC is being assembled in Scotland and the USA and will then be shipped to South Africa for installation and integration by Eclipse Networks and Breakpoint Solutions.
The CHPC is an invaluable resource for research in Africa, bolstering work being done in energy alternatives, weather prediction, healthcare and other key areas of research.
“Research is being conducted at the University of Limpopo in South Africa relating to Lithium crystals, used in high energy-density solid-state lithium-ion batteries,” says Stefan Jacobs, South and Eastern Europe (SEE) systems practice solution architect for Sun. “This research aims to improve battery technology to deliver cost effective and long-term power solutions. The research relies on computational modeling methods that benefit greatly from the incredible processing power available at the CHPC.”
Other research in the development of vaccines and new technologies, which addresses African challenges, will also benefit from being able to utilize the CHPC. Jacobs says that months of computing on many research projects will be replaced by weeks, days or even hours when conducted at the CHPC.