Another year has come and gone at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre. 2019 was full of collaboration, achievements, challenges and new beginnings – a testament to the Centre’s skills, capabilities and services.
Pawsey is a Tier-1 supercomputing facility in Australia. Its aim – delivering cutting-edge supercomputing and data services for the benefit of society, industry and the environment. The Centre achieves this through its technology, expertise and collaboration, that enable and accelerate scientific discovery.
In this light, what did 2019 hold for the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre?
Pawsey Capital Refresh
In early 2018, Pawsey received $70 million in funding from the Federal government to refresh its infrastructure, further driving the Centre’s ability to accelerate scientific discovery. 2019 saw a range of achievements with the Capital Refresh Project, including:
- The Project Manager role was appointed to Stacy Tyson
- Board established reference groups
- Tape and High Speed Storage were expanded
- Dell Technologies was announced as the successful Cloud Compute Upgrade vendor
- Board released and developed the MWA and ASKAP RFQs, respectively
- The Pawsey Supercomputing System (PSS) tender was released via AusTender
In late 2019, the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre announced the arrival of Topaz, a new commodity Linux cluster that complements the Zeus SGI Linux cluster. The system will be in full production in January 2020 after undergoing final configuration and testing with invited Pawsey researchers.
The new cluster is made up of 42 nodes, 20 for remote visualisation with the state-of-the-art Quadro NVIDIA GPUs and 22 for general-purpose computing with dual NVIDIA V100 GPUs. Topaz will provide users with enhanced GPU capabilities, particularly in AI, computational work, machine learning workflows and data analytics.
Pawsey strive to directly engage with our stakeholders via our outreach and training activities, which encompass conferences, tours, open days and regular training sessions offered in several cities around Australia. Its trainers deliver a range of unix, supercomputing and cloud training to a range of groups across Australia. The structure of training is to maximise researcher benefits of supercomputers, possibilities and applications of powerful tools. Pawsey training will continue in 2020.
To gain feedback from researchers, Pawsey held User Forums during training weeks. This helps the Centre to understand areas of improvement on its expertise, systems and services. Pawsey User Forums will continue in 2020 and include updates on the Pawsey Capital Refresh.
Pawsey Uptake Projects
In the latter half of 2019, Pawsey called for research groups to work on collaborative projects with Pawsey uptake staff. The goal being to improve researcher software and workflows at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre. Over the course of the period, Pawsey staff assisted four projects at 0.25 FTE with the focus of improving application performance that use or potentially use Pawsey compute resources.
In March 2019, Pawsey brought five teams together from academia and industry for a GPU mentored 5-day workshop. The GPU Hackathon, is a collaborative effort between the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre and United States Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and tech designers NVIDIA.
The GPU experts mentoring the teams draw together experience spanning six countries and organisations including the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, National Supercomputing Centre Singapore, Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, NVIDIA, the University of Melbourne, and Swinburne University of Technology.
Combining advanced computing technologies with world-leading mentors and researchers who want to learn and accelerate their code will deliver exciting results and raise awareness of the power of GPUs and supercomputing in Australia.
Every year, the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre runs an intensive 10-week internship program. November 2018 hosted a group of students delve deeper into their scientific areas through high-performance computing, data analytics and visualisation.
The 2018 internships came to an end in February 2019 with 20 students presenting posters on their research, experiences and learnings at the Centre.
November 2019 started a new round of internships, with twelve students kicking off their summer at Pawsey. Projects range from geophysical use of HPC, atomic and molecular photon collisions and carbon molecular dynamic simulations, quantum statistical algorithms, genomic mapping, sampling and genetic analyses, automatic seismic interpretation and critical infrastructure monitoring using deep learning and martian impact crater detection.
Collaboration & Engagement
Pawsey has continued collaboration with National Computational Infrastructure, Australia’s other Tier-1 HPC Centre. This continues to grow the sustained support from the Australian Government for two national centres. Pawsey also exist in a very connected national and international environment, and have growing collaborations in this space.
- On a cold, August morning, six Pawsey staff set off to Geraldton, with stars on their minds to the home of two world-leading radio astronomy telescopes, the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) and the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA). Read about their adventures here.
- The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, co-organiser of SCA 2019, were joined by the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) representatives in Singapore, focusing on ‘HPC Futures – Hyperscalers, Exa, AI, Quantum and Beyond’, the Australian team engaged with conference participants as an exhibitor, and also presented at conference streams, workshops and keynotes to showcase Australia’s scientific outcomes enabled by the power of supercomputing. Read more on Hyperscale and hyper-connectivity: an emerging HPC Asian Zone.
- Pawsey and NCI spent a week in Frankfurt, Germany at the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC), which broadened the Centres’ national and international reach. Their focus was to forge formal collaborative relationships and strategic alliances with a variety of recognised centres.
- Pawsey joined over 10,000 attendees at SC19 in Denver this year, collecting its own series of wins:
- Staff ran a Containers in HPC workshop, which had the most attendance for the conference
- Dell Technologies announced as the successful vendor for the Pawsey Cloud Compute upgrade
- Pawsey took home the Editor’s Choice Award as the Best Use of HPC in Physical Sciences for HPCWire’s Readers’ Choice Awards for its case study Protecting Perth’s Aquifers
- Pawsey strong advocates for diversity and inclusion, the Centre supported the Women in HPC diversity day and networking reception
- Issue #5 of the best practices newsletter was released, focusing on storage best practices in HPC.
- With its focus on diversity and inclusion, the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre had a strong presence at eResearch Australasia 2019, which focused on eResearch Diversity. Pawsey participated in areas of gender diversity, bringing communities together and creating collaborative chapters of diverse working groups
- Data Science Week kicked off on a national scale for the first time in 2019 with over 700 participants attending the week’s launch. Focusing on Women in Data Science this week saw a series of events that empower and include women in dialogue; including Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith who shared her story and role as Australia’s Women in STEM ambassador and the importance the role plays for future generations.
- Pawsey encourage the community to tour the Centre, it’s our way of showcasing the Centre’s capabilities, amazing science and people. Amongst the many tours over the year, a significant highlight was when Joseph Pawsey’s family (whose namsake is the Centre) visited the centre on the 74th anniversary of radio astronomy.
This highlight is just a taste of the technology, expertise and collaborative nature of the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre. Pawsey’s ongoing engagement with the local, national and international communities will continue in 2020, which is looking more exciting than ever!