Meet NCI Australia, the first OpenPOWER member based down under
Published on Thursday 26 October 2017
NCI Australia is Australia’s most highly integrated high-performance research computing environment, providing world-class services to government, industry, and researchers.
NCI is based out the Australian National University and is home to the Southern Hemisphere’s fastest supercomputer. Additionally, NCI boasts its high-performance research cloud, the highest performance in Australia, the fastest file systems, and Australia’s largest research data repository. This is all supported by an expert team of NCI staff who are recognized both nationally and internationally. This team is a great addition to OpenPOWER, as NCI and OpenPOWER share the same goals in technological research.
“To be the first ever Australian organization to join the OpenPOWER Foundation provides recognition of NCI’s standing, and represents a step toward a more heterogeneous architecture,” said Allan Williams, Associate Director (Services and Technologies), NCI.
Power Architecture for High-Powered Computing
NCI staff have been working with Australia’s scientific community to qualify a range of memory-intensive applications for use under IBM’s architecture. With this architecture and OpenPOWER membership, they are able research further innovations around computing architecture.
Additionally, NCI is the first OpenPOWER member that has been able to merge both POWER8 and x86 architectures into the same scheduling system. The combination of POWER8 and x86 allows for unparalleled diversity and accessibility for researchers accessing high-powered computing (HPC) through NCI.
The Intersection of AI and HPC
NCI has been working to acquire various IBM Power System nodes to add to their existing HPC infrastructure. This includes the Raijin system, a supercomputer hybrid which features Fujitsu Primergy and Lenovo NeXtScale high-performance, distributed-memory cluster.
NCI researchers are currently utilizing nodes due to their capacity for memory bandwidth. The bandwidth is so significant that by itself, it provides a large performance advantage for some of their applications. As familiarity with the technology increases, IBM Power Systems nodes will present an opportunity for researchers, like those using NCI’s Raijin, to explore the intersection of AI and HPC across a wide range of scientific applications.
The intersection of AI and HPC are increasingly important to supercomputing, and the IBM Power Systems design presents to clients a single package of HPC and AI capabilities.
NCI will be able to introduce Australia’s first fully heterogeneous open architecture solution to support the needs of Australian researchers. The open architecture solution will include IBM Power Systems for HPC technology into its data center, providing increased flexibility, optimization, and efficiency.