Meet Australia’s Fastest Supercomputer

Meet Australia’s Fastest Supercomputer

National Computational Infrastructure Australia’s Raijin supercomputer has been ranked as Australia’s fastest in the Top 500 list just released at the International Supercomputing Conference 2017. The list is published twice a year at the world’s major supercomputing conferences and rank the most powerful supercomputers in the world.

NCI’s Raijin supercomputer comes in at world number 70 with a measured performance of 1.67 Petaflops.

Currently, the fastest supercomputer in the world is the Chinese National Supercomputing Centre in Wuxi with a 93 Petaflop capacity.

NCI is a formal collaboration between The Australian National University, CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and Geoscience Australia, as well as 35 other universities and medical research institutes around the country. The partners conduct research covering every scientific discipline, from the smallest quantum simulations to the biggest astronomical modelling and everything in between.

The work of NCI and its team of expert computational staff is critical to all areas of Australian research, including health, environment and materials design. In particular, the development of Australia’s national weather and climate forecasting model, and the associated data storage, is a major research activity at NCI.

NCI is one of the few supercomputing facilities around the world to integrate data and compute infrastructure at a fundamental level. This removes many obstacles to research and allows petabytes of data to be efficiently and securely stored and used at NCI. It also allows NCI to provide tools and software support for researchers to access and analyse complex datasets in new ways.

The supercomputer’s ~85,000 cores, 300 Terabytes of main memory and 50 Petabytes of high-performance data storage provide a peak measured performance of 1.67 Petaflops, comparable to about 40,000 desktop computers working simultaneously.

When it debuted in 2012, Raijin reached #24 in the global Top 500 list, before slipping to #121 in 2016. This year’s return to the top 100 is the result of much-needed support from the Australian Government’s NCRIS Agility Fund in the second half of 2016, which allowed NCI to purchase an expansion to the original Raijin supercomputer.

However, despite this upgrade, NCI says its core computer is fast approaching the end of its serviceable life and requires urgent replacement.

If the supercomputer is not upgraded soon Australia’s research capability will be compromised, NCI’s says. “Without a replacement for the current computer, the competitiveness of Australia’s research will suffer and much important research will simply not be possible.”

This need for re-investment in NCI’s infrastructure is recognised in the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap, which explicitly recommends the urgent replacement of ageing supercomputers used for priority Australian research.

Although NCI’s increased capacity assists in enabling our mission of providing world-class high-end computing services for Australian research and innovation, NCI points out Australia’s current Top 500 listing positions the nation’s research computation capacity significantly below similar economies.

All images courtesy of Lifehacker Australia