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The year for imprints on international projects

CHPC has made significant progress in ensuring world-class computing services to its user-base, affiliated with international science and technology projects and put human capital development in the fore-front of its planning in the 2013-14 financial year.


CHPC joins SKA

CHPC has joined the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project and forms part of the Science Data Processing (SDP) Consortium of SKA together with Cambridge University, SKA-SA and Daresbury Laboratories.

Organsations wishing to affiliate with the global project sent proposals to the SKA Office for participation. This was followed by SKA presentations of Work Package Consortia that showcased an overview of the composition, people, work concepts and approach to each particular work package. In the SDP Consortium, centre is set to contribute towards three full-time equivalent work packages: exascale prototypes, tiered data delivery and science support. In the financial year ended, CHPC participated in a number these SKA meetings. At the January 2014 meeting, held at the Juelich Supercomputing Center, final prototypes were discussed. The current heterogeneous architecture test-bed provided by CHPC, with a mixture of accelerators, will form part of the prototypes. The drive to enhance HPC astronomy competence in the centre has resulted in significant progress in the building the relationships with the MeerKAT and SKA teams.


Centre’s Student Cluster Competition wins international competition

Team South Africa scooped overall top honours on 19 June 2013 at the international Student Cluster Challenge in Leipzig, Germany, achieving the highest aggregate points total for all the benchmarks included in the competition (Linpack and the chosen applications) and acing the interview with the judges. South Africa’s resounding success was unsuspected since the country was a first time entrant. The team won over seasoned competitors from USA, China, Germany, UK and Costa Rica.

The Student Cluster Challenge is hosted by the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) and is an opportunity to showcase student expertise in a friendly yet spirited competition. The Centre for High Performance Computing was the organizer of South African competition. In the challenge, students have a unique opportunity to learn, experience and demonstrate how high-performance computing influences our world and day-to-day learning. Held in collaboration with the High Performance Computing Advisory Council and ISC, the Student Cluster Challenge is designed to introduce the next generation of students to the high performance computing world and community.

One of the students who participated in the national competition, Mathew Cawood, completed his honours degree utilising CHPC resources. He has now been awarded a Master’s studentship and placed in the centre’s the Advance Computer Engineering Lab. The experience in the competition will assist South Africa grow a generation of high performance computing expertise for national economic development and for large projects such as SKA. South Africa will enter as defending champions in June 2014 and hopes to continue flying the flag.


HPC enabled research output

The centre’s computational resources enabled about 60 peer-reviewed publications by users and 55 completions of postgraduate theses in the year. The centre is acknowledged in the published work.

After the successful completion of the pilot Bio-Informatics Service Platform (BSP), an extension of this project was granted by the Department of Science and Technology to increase the level of support for this community.


Tracking the centre’s utilisation in the year that was

The centre received 171 new users registration in the year, 1197 helpdesk calls, a system utilization of over 91% was realised, were 22.6 million total CPU hours was provided to 537 active users with 172713 running jobs.  The centre achieved a system uptime of approximately 83.8% where 5.2% was scheduled downtime for maintenance.

After the implementation of the new workload manager in the third quarter, there was significant improvement of the resource allocation to the research community. The cluster utilisation now averages about 75% with significant improvement of applications’ efficiency, where all CPU reserved for jobs are utilised.


Last Updated on Friday, 06 June 2014 13:46

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Applications are open for Master's in High Performance Computing

ICTP and the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) are pleased to announce that they are now accepting applications for the inaugural year of the Master in High Performance Computing (MHPC) programme, which will start in September 2014 in Trieste.

The MHPC is an innovative degree programme that prepares students for exciting careers in the fast-growing field of high performance computing (HPC). Set in the stimulating research environment of ICTP and SISSA, the programme will combine lectures with hands-on and applied projects to prepare future HPC specialists for academia and industry.

MHPC coursework will be driven by challenging scientific and technical problems that require an HPC approach. Lectures will be provided by ICTP and SISSA staff and highly recognized international experts. Both institutes have long histories and experience in developing and applying scientific and research computation models.

Students who successfully complete the program will be able to address problems requiring advanced computational techniques in multiple domains, and communicate HPC technological issues in all scientific and industrial environments.

Details about tuition fees, fellowships, admissions requirements and application instructions are available on the MHPC website.

Application deadline is Monday, 19 May 2014.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 10:38

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Cunnama solves galactic puzzles using supercomputer simulations

Pietermaritzburg born Daniel Cunnama recently graduated with a PhD from the University of the Western Cape under the supervision of Prof Catherine Cress. His research uses state-of-the-art supercomputer simulations run at the Centre for High Performance Computing to study galaxies and their environments. Simulations of this kind have become an essential tool for interpreting observations from telescopes and for planning future projects. Many of the results deal with observations that will be carried out by the SKA, particularly those involving neutral hydrogen and synchrotron radiation.

Cunnama completed his undergraduate studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal with a BSc in computational physics, a pioneering course at the time and one which he feels set him up well for his future career. "Using computers to solve complex problems is a vital skill for any astronomer," he believes.

He then participated in the National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme honours programme before returning to UKZN to complete an MSc in computational solid state physics. He has been a pioneer of simulation work in South Africa and has made major contributions to a flagship project at the Centre for High Performance Computing in Cape Town. He has recently taken up an SKA SA postdoctoral fellowship at the University of the Western Cape and continues to work on questions in galaxy evolution and cosmology using supercomputers in collaboration with Prof Chris Power at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research in Perth, Western Australia.

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 March 2014 16:13

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Promoting a career in HPC

The centre is tasked with developing and growing the HPC pipeline in South Africa and as such, supports initiatives where it can showcase High Performance Computing as a career. University of Johannesburg's Soweto Science Centre and Science-tube hosted a series of lectures, interactive workshops, demonstrations and exhibitions at Miriyavhavha Technical Secondary School in Ha-Khakhu village, Vhembe Limpopo. The event took place over two days: Friday 28 February – Saturday 01 March 2014.

Lectures and workshops covered the following themes:

  1. Space Science, Astronomy and SKA
  2. Nanotechnology
  3. Energy
  4. Materials science
  5. The Solar System and beyond
  6. History of Science
  7. State of Science in South Africa
  8. Nuclear Science
  9. Mathematical topics
  10. Career Guidance/ Bursaries
  11. Computational Science, Technology and Innovation

CHPC used the platform to exhibit and showcase what a career in HPC entails. The interaction and response from the Grade 8 to Grade 12 learners who attended was outstanding and some now see high performance computing as a possible career when they previously did not know what a supercomputer was. Their parents welcomed the career interaction their children recived over the two days.

Last Updated on Monday, 03 March 2014 13:12

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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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