SA's new supercomputer powered by open source
Sun Microsystems has began the deployment of South Africa’s largest supercomputer, a 27Teraflop system that runs a suite of open source software. The system is the second phase of a multi-million rand project that was awarded to Sun last year and will be housed at the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) in Cape Town.
Stefan Jacobs, South and Eastern Europe systems practice solution architect for Sun, says that the operating systems used on the system will be a combination of Solaris 10, Suse 10 and Red Hat 5.1. The applications that will be used, he says, “will be mixed bag of open source scientific software, some purchased from ISVs and some locally developed by the researchers”.
At the core of the system is a Sun SPARC Enterprise M9000 server with 64 SPARC64 VII quad-core processors, and a cluster of four Sun Blade 6048 modular systems. These will be deployed in two stages. Stage one consists of one Sun Blade 6048 modular system with 48 blades based on Intel Xeon E5450 processors, and stage two consists of three Sun Blade 6048 modular systems that house 144 blades based on the next-generation Intel Xeon processor, also known as Nehalem.
At the front-end, Sun will be providing the CHPC with its Visualization system which allows for users to assemble and view 3D models of their data. The Open Storage solution is based on ten AMD Opteron-powered Sun Fire X4540 Open Storage servers, which provide 480 terabytes of data storage.
Hardware for the CHPC is being assembled in Scotland and the USA and will then be shipped to South Africa for installation and integration by local partners Eclipse Networks and Breakpoint.
The CHPC is used by a range of researchers in Africa working on things as diverse as energy alternatives, weather prediction and healthcare.
The CHPC is funded by the South African Department of Science and Technology, and managed by the Meraka Institute of the CSIR.