South Africa's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has unveiled a petaflops (PFLOPs) machine which they claim is the fastest computer on the African continent due to its speed of roughly one petaflops (1000 teraflops). Flops are units for measuring of computer's processing speed.
"This is a supercomputer with processing speed capable of a thousand-trillion floating point operations per second. Floating point operations or flops are used in computing to calculate extremely large numbers,"revealed the CSIR in its presentation of the computer which features over 40 000 cores making it 15 times faster than the previous system.
The petaflops machine has been named Lengau which is a Setswana name for Cheetah.
Dr Thomas Auf der Heyde, Deputy Director-General: Research Development and Support at the Department of Science and Technology says high-performance computing plays an important role growing the economy.
"For our country to grow at the required rate, as set out in the National Development Plan, it needs to change gear by building capacity in the production and dissemination knowledge. The CHPC represents a deliberate move by this country to invest in modernising our research and development. High-performance computing and advanced data technologies are powerful tools in enhancing the competitiveness of regions and nations,"
The system used to in create the supercomputer has a smaller footprint than previous systems. The Dell HPC system is comprised of 1,039 Dell PowerEdge servers, based on Intel Xeon processors totalling 19 racks of compute nodes and storage. It has a total Dell Storage capacity of five petabytes, and uses Dell Networking ethernet switches and Mellanox EDR InfiniBand with a maximum interconnect speed of 56 GB/s.
Jim Ganthier, vice president and general manager, Engineered Solutions, HPC and Cloud at Dell says they are proud to collaborate with South Africa's CSIR to delivery the fastest HPC system in Africa.
"The Lengau system will provide access and open doors to help drive new research, new innovations and new national economic benefits. While Lengau benefits from the latest technology advancements, from performance to density to energy efficiency, 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 and, ultimately, help enable human potential."
Other advantages of Lengau, according to the CSIR, are that it will provide increased access to computer resources for users who previously had limited or no access to such resources, improve performance of large-scale simulations that were impossible in the past, opening completely new avenues of research, and providing greater capacity to build the private sector/non-academic user base of its CHPC (Centre for High Performance Computing) for improved national economic benefit.