Australian and Singaporean supercomputers pool power for APAC research platform

Allowing nations' scientists to more closely collaborate and exploit HPC resources

Australia’s two biggest supercomputing facilities are joining forces with Singapore’s National Supercomputing Centre (NSCC) to enable researchers to tap their combined capabilities.

National Computational Infrastructure (NCI), based at the Australian National University, and Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Kensington near Perth are working with the NSCC to establish an ‘Asia Pacific Research Platform’ (APRP) for scientists to more easily collaborate and exploit compute resources.

“Supercomputing centres in each Asia Pacific country all have their own limitations, which may relate to size, age of architecture, limited budgets, or local demand-driven architectural solutions that may negatively impact or preclude other less common types of computations,” NCI Director Professor Sean Smith told Computerworld.

“The APRP agenda is to build the capability to share computational workloads across multiple centres. This can bring benefits in several ways, for example allowing larger workflows beyond the capability of any one centre to be distributed across centres, or exploiting the heterogeneity of different architectures to achieve results that would be more difficult and time-consuming to achieve on any one architecture,” he added.

The APRP – being rolled out in collaboration with Australia’s Academic Research Network (AARNet) and the Singapore Advanced Research and Education Network (SingAREN) – will allow the movement of large amounts of scientific data at 10-100Gbps between the supercomputing facilities of both nations.

The platform follows in the footsteps of a similar initiative in the US – the $5 million ‘Pacific Research Platform’ – described as a “science-driven high-capacity data-centric freeway system on a large regional scale”.

It will link to its US equivalent, the NCI said, allowing researchers to “collaborate seamlessly”. It will also facilitate connection to other pan-Asian research platforms through the SingAREN optical Open Exchange (SOE).

The collaboration between NCI and the NSCC follows a years’ long partnership (with the A*STAR Computational Resource Centre of the Singapore Agency for Science, Technology and Research) on the InfiniCortex Project.

The project has formed globe-spanning network of supercomputers which work together to tackle problems that each individual supercomputer would not be able to solve on its own. In 2015 researchers achieved the transfer of 1.2 terabytes of data over 26,000 kilometres in just 28 minutes, and have since demonstrated prototype high-performance computing services such as the InfiniCloud.

“The launch of the Asia Pacific Research Platform paves the way for the next generation of ‘in-place’ access to data by remote computing facilities enabling researchers to utilise computing resources around the globe with no performance degradation and a more efficient use of global storage and energy,” Smith said.

“Successful implementation of the APRP agenda will draw the scientific communities in the partner countries closer together, enhancing the benefits of collaboration, optimally exploiting available HPC architectures, establishing and enabling multinational collaborative development and use of heterogeneous data archives to address, for example, medical, societal, continental and global research challenges,” he added.

Hands across the Java

In a separate announcement made last week, Pawsey Supercomputing Centre and the NSCC signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to deliver better, faster and more innovative scientific outcomes for the benefit of both nations.

According to the agreement, the two facilities will collaborate on areas such as strategy, best practice and shared experiences in planning, defining, administering, and supporting industry engagement, outreach activities, training and stakeholder management. They also cooperate on governance matters, resource access and sharing, resource allocation, export control, infrastructure accreditation; HPC software development and cybersecurity.

“The proximity of the two facilities, similarities in storage solutions, but mostly creative thinking approach to problems has driven Pawsey’s interest in crystallising this relationship with NSCC” said Ugo Varetto, Pawsey’s acting executive director.

“We are convinced that this type of initiative will enhance the services each Centre provides, therefore researchers and their outcomes will be impacted. Working together, we aim to continue accelerating scientific discoveries in these two nations for the benefit of humanity,” he added.

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Tags hpcSingaporeNational Computational Infrastructure (NCI)InfinibandPawsey Supercomputing CentreNCIAsai-Pacific Research PlatformNational Supercomputing Centre (NSCC)

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