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CHPC unveils petascale machine

CHPC has unveiled the fastest computer on the continent, a petaflops (PFLOPs) machine.

This is a super computer with processing speed capable of a thousand-trillion floating point operations per second. Floating point operations or flops are used in computing to calculate extremely long numbers.

With over 24 000 cores, the machine is the fastest computer on the African continent owing to its speed of just over one petaflop (1000 teraflops) which is 15 times faster than the previous system named Tsessebe.

Tsessebe had a peak performance of 24.9 teraflops/second and became number 311 on the world’s top 500 supercomputers and was ranked number one in Africa.

Following the history of CHPC of naming its high performance computers after fastest animals in the country, this petascale machine was named Lengau which is a Setswana name for Cheetah.

Dr Thomas Auf der Heyde, Deputy Director-General: Research Development and Support at the Department of Science and Technology, outlined the role high-performance computing played in growing the economy.

“For our country to grow at the required rate, as set out in the National Development Plan, it needs to change gear by building capacity in the production and dissemination knowledge,” he explained.

“The CHPC represents a deliberate move by this country to invest in modernising our research and development. High-performance computing and advanced data technologies are powerful tools in enhancing the competiveness of regions and nations,” he added.

Dr Happy Sithole, the Director of CHPC, detailed the journey leading to the unveiling of the new machine.

“When we started in 2007, we took inspiration from the fastest animals in the land and named our first high performance computing system iQudu (Xhosa for Kudu) which boasted 2.5 teraflops (which is 2.5 trillion operations per second).

“In 2009 there was increased demand of computational resources, and a new high performance computing system dubbed the Tsessebe was launched. It boasted 24.9 teraflops and became number 311 on the TOP500 supercomputers, and ranked number one in the African continent. The system was later upgraded to 64.44 teraflops,” he said.

The current system is named Lengau owing to its speed of 1000 teraflops. Due to the technology, the system is also smaller in footprint than the previous system. The Dell HPC system is comprised of 1,039 Dell PowerEdge servers, based on Intel Xeon processors totalling 19 racks of compute nodes and storage. It has a total Dell Storage capacity of five petabytes, and uses Dell Networking ethernet switches and Mellanox EDR InfiniBand with a maximum interconnect speed of 56 GB/s.

“Dell is proud to collaborate with South Africa’s CSIR on the delivery of the fastest HPC system in Africa. The Lengau system will provide access and open doors to help drive new research, new innovations and new national economic benefits,” said Jim Ganthier, vice president and general manager, Engineered Solutions, HPC and Cloud at Dell.

“While Lengau benefits from the latest technology advancements, from performance to density to energy efficiency, the most important benefit is that Lengau will enable new opportunities and avenues in research, the ability to help spur private sector growth in South Africa and, ultimately, help enable human potential.”

The key advantages of Lengau are:

  • Effective access for users to compute resources who had limited or no access to the resources in the past due to the capacity constraints,
  • Effective performance of large scale (i.e. many cores, many teraflops) simulations that were impossible in the past, opening completely new avenues of research, and
  • Effective capacity to build the private sector/non-academic user base of the CHPC for improved national economic benefit to be realised from HPC utilisation.

Last Updated on Monday, 13 June 2016 15:55

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German Parliamentary Portfolio Committee visits CHPC

This week, the CHPC welcomed the Committee on Digital Agenda of the Bundestag (German Federal Parliament) on an official visit to a number scientific and legislative organisations in South Africa.

The committee, through South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation, visited the country on a five-day mission to find cooperation and business opportunities. The committee is made-up of seven members from the various parties in Germany: Christian Democratic Union of Germany, Christian Social Union, Social Democratic Party and The Left Party.

Following a CHPC presentation on its mandate and activities, some which included existing CHPC activities and relations with Germany, discussions occurred on how Germany can work together with the CHPC towards reaching its mandate and clarity on the specific programmes Germany is looking at within South Africa.  

The visit to the CHPC followed by scheduled meetings with:

·         Members of the National Council of Provinces in Cape Town

·         Members of Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

·         Representatives of the Western Cape Government

·         Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Cllr. Patricia de Lille

·         Ms Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology in Pretoria

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 March 2016 11:39

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CHPC system availability

CHPC is installing a new system and will not be available from January to March 2016.

Fitting has been completed, test users are running their jobs and full usage will be possible from mid-March when cooling doors will have been installed.
Below are the summary details of new cluster:
The new CHPC cluster will consist of a total of 19 racks containing 1008 standard compute nodes (24 cores/node; 24192 total core number; 128 GB memory/node), 5 FAT nodes (56 cores/node; 280 total core number; 1024 GB memory/node) with a total theoretical peak Linpack performance of 774.5 Tflop/s.

Last Updated on Friday, 25 May 2018 20:55

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NMMU hosts the 6th CHPC Introduction to Programming with Linux and Python School

CHPC started its week-long Programming with Linux and Python School at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), North Campus on Monday 18 January 2016.

About 60 Masters and Doctoral students in fields of science and engineering from universities all over South Africa gathered at the ICT Department of the university for the basic scientific programming course intended to introduce postgraduate students to Linux (Ubuntu) and programming with Python. The students are in the fields of chemistry, physics, mathematics, applied mathematics, biology, bioinformatics, computer science and engineering and are without prior or sound knowledge of Linux and Python scripting. The CHPC, as a national computing facility, is tasked with ensuring that South African researchers are able to run their scientific applications or codes on its multi-million Rand systems and to do this, researchers need to be trained on the best and most efficient ways of utilising this national investment. Training users allows them full control of their work with less help-desk support as CHPC systems run on Linux and therefore Python and Linux scripting skills are essential for HPC. The CHPC help-desk is available to support users further.

The course is practical in nature, with students spending the full six days in a computer lab doing hands-on practical work. Since 2011, the CHPC has trained over 200 students some of which already completed their doctorates studies in field related to High Performance Computing (HPC) and joined industry and academia.

The first two days cover:

Overview of Ubuntu Linux desktop, Running commands and getting help, Browsing the file system, the bash shell, Standard I/O and pipe users, groups and permissions, vi and vim editor basics, Linux file system in-depth, advanced topics in users, groups and permissions, printing, introduction to string processing and string processing with regular expressions, finding and processing files, investigating and managing processes, introduction to PBS Pro and; job submission at the CHPC.

The next four days cover:

Python basics and Python objects, numbers, sequences, dictionaries, conditional and loops, files and input/output; and error and exceptions. The course runs from 18-23 January 2016 and is conducted by the CHPC annually.

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 January 2016 14:05

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CHPC in the News

CHPC SAGrid Cluster Available

Documentation for users:

Dirisa Storage Unit Available

Lengau Cluster Available

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