HPE to deliver Pawsey's new AU$48m research supercomputer

The new Cray EX system is touted as being 30x as fast as two of the centre's existing supercomputers.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Western Australia will be receiving a new supercomputer thanks to a AU$48 million contract signed with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE).

The new supercomputer will deliver up to 30 times more compute power -- 50 petaflops -- than its predecessor systems Magnus and Galaxy.

Magnus, a Cray XC40, was commissioned in 2014 and the Galaxy, a Cray XC30, in 2013. The new supercomputer will be built using the HPE Cray EX architecture and it is expected the new single general-purpose supercomputer will boast the capability to handle the workloads of both systems.

The HPE Cray EX supercomputer will be used by researchers in fields such as medicine, artificial intelligence, and radio astronomy.

Magnus and Galaxy currently occupy 11 cabinets; the new system will occupy eight. The Cray EX will boast more than 200,000 cores across 1,600 nodes, over 750 GPUs, and more than 200,000 AMD CPU cores.

The Pawsey centre is an unincorporated joint venture between CSIRO, Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, Murdoch University, and the University of Western Australia.

It currently serves over 1,600 researchers across Australia that are involved in more than 150 supercomputing projects. Nine Australian Research Centres of Excellence also benefit from the Pawsey centre.

"Supercomputers like those at Pawsey are increasingly crucial to our ability to conduct world-class, high-impact research," executive director at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre Mark Stickells said.

"The upgrades we're announcing are a critical move in strengthening Australia's position in the global research environment and playing a part in major global research projects, from helping in the fight against COVID-19 to working with the precursor telescopes to the Square Kilometre Array.

See also: Square Kilometre Array supercomputer design completed

"The new supercomputer will not only deliver next generation compute power to meet these growing requirements, it will enable entirely new research projects with global reach and impact."

The new system will be delivered in two stages, with phase 1, pencilled in for Q3 2021, to provide a 45% increase in raw compute power in one-fifth of the size compared with the Magnus and Galaxy systems.

Full commissioning of the system will occur by the second quarter of 2022. In publishing a request for tender for the new supercomputer on behalf of Pawsey, CSIRO said the new system would be ready by September 2020.

Funding for the new supercomputer is part of Pawsey's Capital Refresh Program, delivered under a AU$70 million grant from the Australian government in 2018 to upgrade its supercomputing infrastructure.


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