Dell says a supercomputer unveiled this week in South Africa is the fastest machine on the entire continent.
The 40,000-core one petaflop Lengau system, Setswana for ‘cheetah’, at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Cape Town, is designed to open up new research avenues and stimulate private-sector projects.
The CSIR’s Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) previous system, Tsessebe or ‘antelope’, initially had a peak performance of 24.9 teraflops/s and ranked 311 in the world’s top 500 list.
“When we started in 2007, we took inspiration from the fastest animals in the land and named our first high-performance computing system iQudu, Xhosa for kudu, which boasted 2.5 teraflops, which is 2.5 trillion operations per second,” CHPC director Dr Happy Sithole said in a statement.
“In 2009 there was increased demand for computational resources, and a new high-performance computing system, dubbed the Tsessebe, was launched. The system was later upgraded to 64.44 teraflops.”
Despite being more powerful, Lengau takes up less space than its predecessor. The new 19-rack system has a total of 1,039 Dell PowerEdge Intel Xeon-based servers, mostly made up from PowerEdge C6320s with 24 R630s and five R930s.
With a total storage capacity of 5PB, Lengau uses 16 Dell PowerVault MD3460s, Dell Ethernet switches, Mellanox EDR InfiniBand with a maximum interconnect speed of 56GB/s, and Bright Cluster Management software.
According to Dell, the C6320 servers provide the CPU-based compute power for production HPC workloads, which range from computational fluid dynamics to genetics research. The PowerEdge R930s are used for memory-intensive workloads while the PowerVaults provide parallel storage, which in turn is supported by the R630s.
Jim Ganthier, VP of Dell engineered solutions, HPC, and cloud, said as well as driving new research, the new supercomputer will help the country’s economy.
“The most important benefit is that Lengau will enable new opportunities and avenues in research, the ability to help spur private-sector growth in South Africa,” he said.
To enable a phased rollout, Dell says it built the 14 compute racks before sending them to South Africa.
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