NCI boasts Australia's fastest supercomputer with AU$70m Gadi system

Touted as Australia's most powerful supercomputer.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Australia's National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) has received a new supercomputer it says will deliver 10-times faster performance than the model the new system is replacing.

Gadi, which means "to search for" in the language of the Ngunnawal, the traditional owners of the Canberra region, will be housed at the Australian National University (ANU).

The new supercomputer, provided by Fujitsu, is set to go live in November.

Fujitsu said the new system has been purpose-built for the NCI from technology sourced from Fujitsu and other vendors. 

With over 35,000 researchers on its books, the NCI operates as a formal collaboration of the ANU, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), and Geoscience Australia, as well as through partnerships with a number of research-intensive universities that are supported by the Australian Research Council.

See also: In pictures: The world's 25 fastest supercomputers (TechRepublic)

Gadi will replace Raijin, which was also provided by Fujitsu back in 2012.

The upgrade follows AU$70 million in Australian government funding under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS), announced in December 2017.

Raijin, which NCI had previously boasted as being the most powerful supercomputer in the southern hemisphere rated at 1.67 petaflops, was upgraded with four IBM Power System servers purchased in December 2016. It will now be decommissioned.

Gadi boasts 3,200 nodes, features Fujitsu Primergy CX2570 M5 servers, and will include second-generation Intel Xeon Platinum processors, Intel Optane DC persistent memory, and Nvidia V100 GPUs to accelerate deep learning training and inferencing.

Fujitsu said the new supercomputer will utilise both Fujitsu and Lenovo Neptune direct liquid cooling technologies with warm water, allowing for high-density computing.

The underlying storage sub-systems will be provided by high-performance NetApp storage arrays, clustered together in a DDN Lustre parallel file system. The inter-connect network is architected using Mellanox HDR InfiniBand technology in a Dragonfly+ topology, which Fujitsu said is capable of transferring data at 200GB per second.

"NCI plays a pivotal role in the national research landscape, and the supercomputer is the centrepiece of this important work. Investing in Australia's research is an investment in our future. The upgrade of this critical infrastructure will see Australia continue to play a leading role in addressing some of our greatest global challenges," ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt said.

"This new machine will keep Australian research and the 5,000 researchers who use it at the cutting-edge. It will help us get smarter with our big data. It will add even more brawn to the considerable brains already tapping into NCI."


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