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CHPC takes 2nd prize in 2015 Student Cluster Competition

On 15 July the CHPC student team took second honours at the 4th High Performance Computing Advisory Council HPCAC-International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) Student Cluster Competition, , where more than 2,600 attendees and 160 exhibitors from around the globe met in Frankfurt, Germany.  


The competition featured small teams that competed to demonstrate the incredible capabilities of state-of- the-art high-performance cluster hardware and software. In a real-time challenge, 11 teams of six undergraduate and/or high school students built small clusters of their own design on the ISC exhibit floor and raced to demonstrate the greatest performance across a series of benchmarks and applications.


The students received a unique opportunity to learn, experience and demonstrate how high-performance computing influence our world and day-to-day learning. Held in collaboration with the HPCAC and ISC, the Student Cluster Competition is designed to introduce the next generation of students to the high performance computing world and community.


Final results were as follows:

1st place:Tsinghua University, China

2nd place:Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC)

3rd place:University of Science and Technology of China

Highest LINPACK performance:Jamia Millia Islamia University, India

Fan favourite:Purdue University & Universidad EAFIT


Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 July 2015 13:25

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China retains supercomputing crown in latest Top 500 ranking

A supercomputer developed by China's National Defense University remains the fastest publically known computer in the world, while the U.S. is close to an historic low in the latest edition of the closely followed Top 500 supercomputer ranking, which was published on 13 July 2015.

The Tianhe-2 computer, based at the National Super Computer Center in Guangzhou, has been on the top of the list for more than two years and its maximum achieved performance of 33,863 teraflops per second is almost double that of the U.S. Department of Energy's Cray Titan supercomputer, which is at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The IBM Sequoia computer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California is the third fastest machine, and fourth on the list is the Fujitsu K computer at Japan's Advanced Institute for Computational Science. The only new machine to enter the top 10 is the Shaheen II computer of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, which is ranked seventh.

The Top 500 list, published twice a year to coincide with supercomputer conferences, is closely watched as an indicator of the status of development and investment in high-performance computing around the world. It also provides insights into what technologies are popular among organizations building these machines, but participation is voluntary. It's quite possible a number of secret supercomputers exist that are not counted in the list. With 231 machines in the Top 500 list, the U.S. remains the top country in terms of the number of supercomputers, but that's close to the all-time low of 226 hit in mid-2002. That was right about the time that China began appearing on the list. It rose to claim 76 machines this time last year, but the latest count has China at 37 computers. While there are few major changes in the top positions in the ranking, the aggregate computing power of the 500 systems continues to advance, but the pace is slowing.

The current list represents 361 petaflops per second of performance, up 31% compared this time last year, but is a noticeable slowdown in growth, according to the authors of the study. The rise of the use of graphics processors, so-called GPU computing, is reflected in the top 10. Two machines used Nvidia K20x processors: the second-ranked Cray Titan and sixth-ranked Cray Piz Daint, which is installed at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre. But Intel's Xeon E5 chip continues to outrank all others. Taken together, three generations of the chip (SandyBridge, IvyBridge and Haswell) are in 80% of the systems, representing 67% of total performance. The Top 500 list is compiled by supercomputing experts at the University of Mannheim, Germany; the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 July 2015 10:33

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Swiss Minister and Ambassador to SA visit CHPC

Swiss State Secretary (the equivalent of a minister) for Education, Research and Innovation, Dr Mauro Dell’Ambrogio and the Ambassador to the Embassy of Switzerland in South Africa, Mr Christian Meuwly, visited the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) on 2 June to discuss the centre’s operations and a number of potential collaboration items. They also used the opportunity to explore and to view the centre’s datacentre and technology.

On the agenda were discussions around collaborations with big data, with specific reference to processing and storage. The Swiss delegation was also keen to understand CHPC’s participation in the European Organisation for Nuclear Research’s (Cern) Atlas and Alice projects and applauded the country’s admittance saying it reveals South Africa’s ability to back international science experiments. CHPC signed a memorandum of understanding with Cern for provision of a Tier 2 processing facility and will run 1600 jobs per day for international projects. Plans are underway to expand services to Cern for a Tier 1 facility which involves provision of a permanent storage.

High on the Swiss delegation’s agenda was to initiate a discussion towards collaborations between CHPC and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne on establishing and facilitating Moocs for Africa. Moocs are massive open online courses designed with the aim to change the century-old model of higher education. Their interactive technology aims to deliver top-tier teaching from institutions like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT, not just to a few hundred students in a lecture, but for free and via the Internet to thousands or even millions around the world. CHPC/Swiss government discussions are set to continue.

Last Updated on Friday, 05 June 2015 13:51

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Planning for the next three years

Members of various research and user communities gathered at the CHPC in Cape Town on 29 January 2015, to develop the centre's strategic objectives for years 2015-2018. 

This meeting is customary to the centre as it allows its users to determine the centre's direction and focus and hopefully creates a sense of ownership among all. Some of the items on the agenda included:

  • Projected scientific and engineering problems that will require HPC and the value of such studies in South Africa,
  • The type of HPC architecture required for different scientific applications in the future,
  • Developments in applications which should be taken into consideration,
  • Demand in associated infrastucture, such as long-term data storage facilities and netowrk connectivity,
  • Human capital development and focused training programmes to enable efficient utilisation of HPC across the user communities; and
  • Projected scientific output when there has been sufficient provision of computational resources.

The user focused meeting was then followed by a CHPC staff meeting (30 January 2015) meant to use the community's inputs to draft a strategy for the three-year term.




Last Updated on Thursday, 29 January 2015 13:24

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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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