Swinburne University signs Silicon Graphics for CPU-GPU supercomputer

Swinburne University of Technology has moved ahead with its plans for the rollout of a hybrid CPU- and GPU-based supercomputer

Swinburne University of Technology has moved ahead with its plans for the rollout of a hybrid CPU- and GPU-based supercomputer, signing Silicon Graphics to provide the first phase of the project.

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The super computer will incorporate the GPU Supercomputer for Theoretical Astrophysics Research (gSTAR) which will operate as a national high performance computing (HPC) facility for astronomers. The supercomputer will also be made available for students and other Swinburne researchers.

According to Swinburne’s supercomputer manager, Dr Jarrod Hurley, phase one of the up-to $3 million project focuses on GPU-based nodes, data storage and associated interconnect hardware.

The phase will also deliver more than one Petabyte or 1.8 million Gigabytes of rapid-access usable disk space to Swinburne researchers.

“The combined theoretical performance of gSTAR is in excess of 130 TFLOPS, which is ten times more powerful than the Green Machine,” Hurley said in a statement.

“The computing power provided by GPUs will open up new avenues for cutting-edge simulations and rapid processing of telescope data”.

In addition, nodes with 512 Gigabytes of memory will be made available to process and visualise large datasets. These will be connected by a QDR infiniband network that gives nodes up to 40 Gigabytes of throughput – more than 10,000 times faster than a typical Australian broadband connection, according to Swinburne.

The first phase of the facility is expected to be available in September 2011 and will be housed in Swinburne’s new Data Centre. Phase 2, which will focus primarily on CPU-based compute nodes, will be completed by early 2012.

The new machine is being built in response to increasing demands for high performance computing at the university. The organisation’s existing $1million, 1200 processing core Green Machine unit, built in 2007, is already used close to capacity by researchers investigating areas such as molecular dynamics and galaxy formation.

This week Swinburne was named a part of a new deal signed between the Australia’s Academic and Research Network’s (AARNet) and Cisco for the implementation of the vendor’s Telepresence Exchange System.

The deal will enable AARNet to connect six participating universities including Monash and Swinburne University, which are currently using the system, and Deakin University, Victoria University of Technology, Melbourne University and University of Queensland, which are implementing the technology.

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