Sun Is Building Massive HPC Solution in South Africa

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2009-03-16 Print this article Print

Sun Microsystems is providing the hardware and software for what will become South Africa's largest HPC environment. The solution will include massive SPARC-based servers as well as other systems running on Opteron chips from AMD. Once completed, the HPC environment will offer 27 teraflops of performance for the center, which studies alternative energy, weather and health care issues.

Sun Microsystems is putting together the hardware and software for what will become South Africa's largest high-performance computing solution.

Once completed, the HPC environment at the Centre for High Performance Computing, in Cape Town, will offer 27 teraflops-or 27 trillion floating point operations per second-of performance.

Sun, along with South African partners Eclipse Networks and Breakpoint Solutions, is building out the infrastructure for Phase II of the HPC center, the vendor announced March 16. The facility-funded by the South African Department of Science and Technology and managed by the Meraka Institute-studies such areas as alternative energy, weather prediction and health care. The work helps address such key issues for Africa, including vaccines and new technologies. Center officials said they hope the new HPC environment will cut research time from months to weeks.

The hardware infrastructure Sun is providing is anchored by a SPARC Enterprise M9000 server, which is powered by 64 quad-core SPARC64 processors. In addition, the HPC environment will include a cluster of four Sun Blade 6048 Modular Systems.

According to Sun, all this will be delivered in two phases. The first phase will involve one Sun Blade 6048 with 48 blades, powered by Intel Xeon E5450 quad-core processors. The second stage will be the other three Sun Blade 6048s, with 144 blades and powered by Intel's next-generation "Nehalem" chips, which could be released as early as late March.

For the front end of the HPC solution, Sun is using its Sun Visualization system, which will enable users to put together and view 3-D models of data. In addition, Sun will use an Open Storage solution powered by 10 Sun Fire X4540 Open Storage servers. The storage devices, powered by Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron chips and using Sun's Lustre parallel file system, will offer 480 terabytes of data storage.

All the components will be connected by an InfiniBand switch from Voltaire.

The hardware is being assembled in Scotland and the United States and will be shipped to South Africa for installation and integration. That work will be done by Eclipse and Breakpoint.

On the software side, Sun will use its HPC Software, Linux Edition-an open-source offering for HPC clusters-and Sun xVM Ops Center, which will enable the center to manage both the x64 and SPARC physical and virtual systems. Sun also will use software from TotalView Technologies, which offers products to analyze and debug serial and parallel code.



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