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Future challenges see industry finding its way to high performance computing


26 March 2012

South Africa’s Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) now has over 500 users from across the science and engineering domains. Traditional users of the centre have been higher education institutions and research councils. However, ever-mounting pressures on industry to grow their business and to become more competitive, have led a number of companies to the CHPC.

The CSIR’s Research Impact Area (RIA) strategy for the advanced manufacturing industry seeks to achieve significant impact through the development and transfer of manufacturing technologies that improve the competitiveness of existing South African industry while also creating new manufacturing opportunities. CHPC industry partners such as Sasol, Hatch and others are using the facility to conduct computationally intensive research that seeks to advance their products and increase their competitive edge. They have access to the facilities without long-term commitment, which translates to cost-effective access.

Some of the functionality and services that South African industry has access to include:

    Cluster usage resources
    Training on cluster platforms and related services,
    Priority queue,
    Storage resources,
    Backup and archiving solution, technical support and services

There are three ways in which industry can access CHPC facilities. The first is through Computer Processing Unit (CPU) rental on cost recovery basis. This option is specifically designed for industry with established research and development (R&D) functions. The second option is for industry without an R&D function, where the CHPC can provide consultancy on simulation and expertise. The third option is a combination of CPU rental and consultancy.

To improve service to industry, the CHPC 2011 national meeting established an Industrial Advisory Council. The council, made up of CHPC users from industry, meets twice annually and is a platform for South African companies to provide advice on CHPC policy, strategy and implementation as it pertains to industry. It is a forum to identify and discuss competitive issues around HPC adoption, use, and more generally industrial computing for design, manufacturing, and services that are important to the South African economy.

“The nature of the research objectives of CHPC’s newer users from industry falls into the priority themes identified by the CSIR in its strategies for advanced manufacturing, for example advanced production and processes, knowledge intensive manufacturing and smart products and systems. This makes the CHPC a partner for development that is geared towards developing strategic partnerships with key industry role-players, who are anxious to explore new technologies,” said Dr Happy Sithole, CHPC Director.

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