Australian HPC landscape showcased in Denver

Pawsey Supercomputing Centre joined more than 10,000 participants including researchers, scientists, application developers, computing centre staff and management, computing industry staff, agency program managers, journalists, and congressional staffers at SC19, the largest international supercomputing conference. The conference took place in Denver last week and Pawsey together with NCI Australia, our sister institution in Canberra, showcased the impact supercomputing is bringing to the Australian research community and the nation in the exhibitors’ floor as part of the event.

Australia’s two National facilities shared their experiences and expertise with the international HPC community. With the technical program as its heart, virtually every area of scientific and engineering research, as well as technological development, innovation, and education were covered. Pawsey staff conducted a Containers in HPC tutorial for more than 180 participants, one of the most participated session at the conference, while system administrators and Engagement teams joined forces during separate Bird of Feathers (BoF) sessions to discuss best practices.

NCI’s newest supercomputer, Gadi, was made available to users for an initial transition phase. In January Gadi’s full complement of processors comes online and will offer a 5-10 times increase in computational capacity from the original Raijin installed in 2012.

The TOP500 list, a ranking of the 500 most powerful supercomputers in the world, published twice a year at the major supercomputing conferences was also announced during the week. GADI phase 1 was listed as the number one in the Southern Hemisphere and number 47 in the world. Magnus, Pawsey’s main supercomputer, once the largest research supercomputer in Australia continues to fall in the rank, becoming number 453 in the world down from its original 41 when debuted in 2014.

As part of the $70 million Capital Refresh Project, Pawsey announced Dell Technologies as the successful vendor to expand its current cloud system with five times more memory and 25 times more storage to form a new cutting-edge system.

During the Conference, 2019 HPCwire Readers’ and Editors’ Choice Awards were announced. Pawsey took home the Editor’s Choice Award as the Best Use of HPC in Physical Sciences for a project undertaken with Professor Brett Harris at Curtin University to map and model Perth’s aquifers; while Argonne Laboratory received the People’s Choice Award in the same category for its project where three of the largest cosmological simulations to date, via a record-breaking transfer of nearly 3PB, to generate virtual universes were done.

A theme growing each year is around Diversity and Inclusion. Pawsey and NCI are strong supporters of the Women in HPC (WHPC), aiming to encourage women to participate in the HPC community by providing fellowship, education, and support to women and the organisations that employ them, the group organised a tutorial and hosted a networking event where representatives of the HPC community gathered to demonstrate its support.

Issue #5 of the best practices newsletter was released during the SC conference. The best practices newsletter comes out twice a year before the two major global supercomputing conferences, SC and ISC and contains contributed practices shared with Pawsey from HPC facilities around the globe. In this issue, we discuss best practices of storage – file systems and archives from three supercomputing centres, EPCC, NCI and Pawsey.

We strive to deliver useful and up to date information in this newsletter and would love to hear what your thoughts and opinions of our best practices via a 45-second survey.

Pawsey launched its new mascot during the conference. This year, 300 Pawsey quokkas were adopted at the booth, along with NCI koalas, finding new homes and embarking on new adventures.

Our mascots were well received by the conference attendees and gave us the opportunity to share with them the science that supercomputers are enabling in Australia. Read about some of their adventures in Pawsey’s facebook page.

The knowledge gained and the communities built during SC conferences continues to improve the state of the art computing resources and services Australia researchers enjoy and allow the two national facilities to connect with its peers and identify opportunities of collaboration.

Look out for us at SC2020