ICHEC unveils new supercomputer for Irish research

NUI Galway supercomputer
Image: NUI Galway

National supercomputer will replace ‘Fionn’ which was installed in 2013

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15 May 2018 | 0

A new national supercomputer to support research and innovation is to be installed at the Irish Centre for High End Computing (ICHEC) at NUI Galway.

The as-yet-unnamed computer will replace the ‘Fionn’ and has been acquired with €5.4 million in support from Science Foundation Ireland.

The new system will provide Irish researchers with the high performance computing power to address some of the toughest challenges in science and society such as climate change, healthcare and innovating Irish products through agriculture, engineering and manufacturing.

The new supercomputer is a fundamental component of Ireland’s National High Performance Computing Service, and research infrastructure that will facilitate emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and earth observation that are key to Irish industry and to foster new skills in the educational system.

The overall architecture of this new supercomputer is similar to ‘Fionn’, it will consume up to 50% more electricity and provide approximately five times more computing power.

ICHEC director Prof JC Desplat said: “The future certainly lies in large amounts of data but without the appropriate high performance computing resources, data can become irrelevant. This upgraded national resource is essential to ensuring Ireland can compete internationally in key domains such as precision medicine, earth observation and artificial intelligence. It represents a crucial investment at a time where investments in high performance computing continue their strong growth globally.”

The new system, which is being provided by Intel is comprised of a cluster of 336 high performance servers with 13,440 CPU cores and 64Tb of memory for general purpose computations.

Additional components aimed at more specialised requirements include six large memory nodes with 1.5Tb of memory per server, plus 32 accelerator nodes divided between Intel Xeon Phi and Nvidia P100 GPUs.

The network linking all of these components together is Intel’s 100Gb/s Omnipath technology and DataDirect Networks are providing 1 petabyte of high performance storage over a parallel filesystem. Penguin Computing will be integrating all of this hardware together and providing the software management and user interface layers.

The supercomputer will be named by a public naming competition. Schoolchildren across Ireland are encouraged to research one of six pioneering Irish scientists and pick the most appropriate candidate to name the new system. The best answers will win Raspberry Pi laptops and coding lessons for their classrooms.

For more information about the competition, visit: https://nameourcomputer.ichec.ie/

TechCentral Reporters

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