World supercomputing leadership recently announced at SC

For the first time in two years, Pawsey is back on the Top500 list with Setonix introduced to the world at the SC Conference in the USA.

Setonix has debuted on the list at 314, delivering a peak performance of 2.57 petaflops per second – and that’s just the power of Stage 1.

The Top 500 was unveiled last week at the SC, the world’s largest conference and trade show for high-performance computing professionals.

Fugaku, the Fujitsu supercomputer from Riken Center for Computational Science in Japan, remains Number #1 in the Top500 list. It is three times as powerful as Summit, the IBM-built system at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee that is the world’s number two and the fastest in the USA.

Also released earlier this month was the Green 500, ranking supercomputers from the Top500 list in terms of energy efficiency, measured in gigaflops/watt.

Only Perlmutter, the US National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center’s HPE Cray Shasta supercomputer, was seen in the top 10 on both lists. Fugaku took place 26 while Summit ranked 28 in the Green 500.

A Pawsey system was last in the Top500 back in June 2019, where Magnus was ranked 453, but Stage 1 of Setonix alone has delivered almost 75% better performance than our existing system.

When Setonix’ Stage 2 comes online during 2022, it will scale up the compute power to 50 petaflops and Pawsey’s new system will rocket up the list. This leap in compute power will position Pawsey as the lead Tier 1 research facility in Australia.

Currently, the Gadi Supercomputer housed at NCI in Canberra and ranked number 53 in the world, remains Australia’s fastest system.

Similarly, Stage 1 of CS Finland’s LUMI-C is an HPE Cray EX Lumi supercomputer with architecture almost identical to Setonix but much larger. Its peak performance was 7.6 PFlops/s, just a fraction of its anticipated 550 PFlops when Stage 2 of the system is commissioned.

LUMI-C was ranked number 76 on the Top500 list and 60 on the Green500 list. After the second phase is installed early in 2022, a big increase in its performance and energy efficiency ranking is expected.

The Top500 rankings are used to showcase the ability of supercomputers against other systems, but their biggest impact comes from the science they enable, allowing people to better understand the world we live in.

From atmospheric science to fluid mechanics, plant biology to oceanography, climate modelling to geoscience, Pawsey empowers world-class research, and this is the true value of supercomputing.

The ACM Gordon Bell Prize, awarded during the SC Conference, seeks to recognise innovation in applying high-performance computing to science, engineering, and large-scale data analytics.

This year’s Prize was awarded to a team from several Chinese research institutions who broke new ground in designing simulations of a random quantum circuit.

Estimates on the time it would take to simulate a random quantum circuit of the Google Sycamore quantum processor were as high as 10,000 years.

But the Chinese team introduced a systematic design process for the simulation and, using the Sunway supercomputer, took just 304 seconds for a simulation of comparable complexity.

Quantum computers are difficult to comprehend at present, but this breakthrough means that we are a step closer to creating computers with the ability to solve some problems beyond the means of any classical computer, and also showcase the importance of supercomputers to make it happen.

Advances in quantum computing also present potential commercial opportunities for Australia, which is why the Federal Government is investing in the Quantum Commercialisation Hub.

Pawsey will play a pivotal role in the next decade as quantum computing evolves by delivering compute power at scale as well as offering strategic guidance and leadership needed to support the high-performance computing sector.

Pawsey’s quantum capabilities will be enhanced by the world’s first diamond-based quantum accelerator. With this installation, Pawsey expects to be one of the first supercomputing centres globally to host a universal quantum computer onsite.

Fugaku the Fujitsu supercomputer from Riken Center for Computational Science in Japan, the Number #1 system in the Top500 list

Fugaku the Fujitsu supercomputer from Riken Center for Computational Science in Japan, the Number #1 system in the Top500 list

Setonix pahse 1 supercomputer, with artwork from Martgaret Whitehurst

Setonix phase 1 debuted on the list at 314, delivering a peak performance of 2.57 petaflops per second