The Minister of Science and Technology, Mrs Naledi Pandor, cuts the ribbon at the launch of the Sun Microsystems hybrid supercomputer. Pictured with her is Dr Sibusiso Sibisi, CSIR President and CEO (next to the Minister) and Dr Phil Mjwara, Director-General of the Department of Science and Technology
The Minister of Science and Technology, Mrs Naledi Pandor, was the guest of honour at the launch event, which took place on 8 September 2009 at the CHPC in Rosebank, Cape Town. The event was hosted by the CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research).
Dr Sibusiso Sibisi, CSIR President and CEO, noted, "Through the addition of this Sun Microsystem hybrid supercomputer, the CHPC has become a facility that holds its own among the best in the world. It is a resource, along with the other elements of the unfolding national cyberinfrastructure, which provides us as South Africans with the tools and infrastructure to tackle major challenges collaboratively, by drawing on our own and international expertise."
This new supercomputer provides a variety of platforms for the local and regional research community that grapples with challenges in the domains of climate change, energy security and human health. Using its powerful capacity will support research in pursuit of solutions to, for example, global warming, and to finding safe and reliable energy sources, and cures for or prevention of communicable diseases.
By using this system, months of computing on research projects will be replaced by weeks, days or even hours.
The CHPC is part of South Africa¿s national cyberinfrastructure and embodies one of the key investments of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) to establish cyberinfrastructure for South Africa and the southern African region.
The CHPC is managed by the Meraka Institute of the CSIR.
The supercomputer has been installed in the CHPC's newly refurbished data centre. Green computing interventions have been included in the design and construction of this facility.
The Sun Microsystems hybrid computer complements the existing supercomputers, notably the IBM (e1350) Linux-based cluster and the Blue Gene®/P system.
With a peak performance of 31 trillion calculations per second, the Sun Microsystems hybrid supercomputer is the fastest in Africa and ranks among the Top 500 supercomputers in the world. 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 blades 6048 modular systems.
This was delivered in two stages. Stage one consisted of one Sun Blade 6048 modular system with 48 blades based on Intel® Xeon® E5450 processors; stage two consisted 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, the CHPC has the Sun visualisation system, which allows for users to assemble and view 3D models of their data. The open storage solution is based on 10 AMD Opteron-powered Sun Fire X4540 open storage servers, providing half a petabyte of data with the Lustre parallel file system for extreme input/output performance and reliability.
Rounding out the hardware part of the solution, all of the components will be connected via a Voltaire Infiniband switch. Software for the solution consists of Sun HPC software, Linux Edition, SunVM Ops Center and software from Totalview. The new machine is fully integrated into the CHPC platforms through an intelligent resource management system, MOAB, making it easier for users to choose a relevant platform for their computation.