Pawsey Centre launches hunt for new supercomputer

Pawsey Supercomputing Centre
Pawsey Supercomputing Centre

The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre has officially launched a tender process seeking a replacement for its ageing Magnus and Galaxy systems.

The federal government announced in 2018 that it would put $70 million towards a project to replace of Magnus, a 1488-node Cray XC40 general purpose supercomputer, and Galaxy, a Cray XC30 supercomputer that supports the ASKAP and MWA radio telescopes at the CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia. (ASKAP and MWA precursor instruments for the Square Kilometre Array project.)

In 2018-19, Magnus saw “a massive uptake” in engineering workloads, according to Pawsey, accounting for 38.7 per cent of its use; the next highest use was chemical science projects, which accounted for 21.8 per cent.

Magnus was originally commissioned in 2014, while Galaxy was commissioned in 2013.

The Pawsey Centre is planning a staged upgrade process to replace the systems. The aim is to replace both Magnus and Galaxy with a “single general-purpose supercomputer, the capability of which can be effectively and dynamically partitioned into special-purpose environments under software control,” states a request for tenders document.

The new system will have both CPU- and GPU-based compute nodes A first phase will provide researchers with access to a system offering the equivalent to the combined capacity of the centre's two current supercomputers, but with access to greater memory and more contemporary processors. That phase is due to be commissioned in mid-2021, according to the Pawsey Centre, and will require performance at least 1.5 peak CPU PFlops as well as GPU capacity.

A second phase will significantly increase the total capacity available and is expected to be in production by mid-2022.

“Once complete, the Pawsey upgrade will further support Australian researchers to accelerate scientific discovery, enable high-impact research for the benefit of society, and remain globally competitive,” said Mark Stickells, the centre’s executive director, in a statement.

“Our aim is to provide more powerful supercomputing resources for Australian researchers, and to also improve access and efficiency for our users.”

The centre has already procured some ancillary systems as part of the Pawsey Capital Refresh Project. There is an indicative budget of $48 million for the new supercomputer system.

“The upgrade impacts most, if not all, of Pawsey’s current systems,” said David Schibeci, the technical manager for the project.

“The successful vendor or vendors must provide an integrated and diverse range of services where users can seamlessly move their data as required, enabling researchers to upscale their ambitions and work more efficiently in their science.”

The deadline for responses is 11 February 2020.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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