Pawsey unwraps first stage of AU$48m Setonix HPE research supercomputer

Stage 1 of the unveiling of the HPE Cray EX supercomputer will be used by researchers to 'fine tune' the supercomputer before it's fully operational next year.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor
Image: Pawsey Centre

Western Australia's Pawsey Centre has unveiled stage one of its new AU$48 million Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Cray EX supercomputer.

Wrapped in Indigenous artwork to reflect the stars in the skies, the supercomputer is named after the scientific name for the quokka, Setonix. The first stage is expected to increase the centre's compute power by 45% at one-fifth of the size compared with its predecessor systems, Magnus and Galaxy, which are also housed at the Pawsey Centre.

When fully operational, Setonix is expected to deliver up to 30 times more compute power -- 50 petaflops -- and eventually deliver at least 200Gb/sec of bandwidth into every compute node, and 800Gb/sec into the GPU nodes.

The supercomputer will also feature more than 200,000 AMD CPU cores across 1,600 nodes, over 750 AMD GPUs, and more than 548 TB of CPU and GPU RAM, while occupying eight-cabinets.

"Setonix marks a step change in Pawsey's supercomputing firepower, and this additional capacity will allow more researchers and industries to access next-generation computing speed and data analysis," Pawsey Centre executive Mark Stickells said.

According to the Pawsey Centre, researchers will run code to "fine tune" Setonix during stage one.

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

"Setonix will process vast amounts of radio telescope data from SKA-related projects,  and many other projects of national and international significance that we are proud to support," Stickells said.

Stage two of Setonix will be delivered by mid-2022, with the supercomputer expected to be fully operational in the second half the year.

HPE was awarded the contract to deliver the research supercomputer in October last year, following a tender process.

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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