CSIRO to replace Altix supercomputer

Will move to X86-based architecture to improve compatibility with National Computational Infrastructure and Bureau of Meteorology's clusters and systems

CSIRO’s Advanced Scientific Computing (ASC) division is to replace its SGI Altix supercomputer in an effort to increase the software compatibility of its high performance computing.

According to CSIRO documents, the existing Altix 4700 512GB large-memory system will be replaced with a system using x86 (ia32) compatible processors with 64-bit extension by May this year.

“This will provide processor and software compatibility with nearly all the other systems accessible by CSIRO users, but will uniquely provide a large-memory capability,” the documents read.

“The system will be used for data-intensive computing, and general shared-memory and other parallel computing. It will interface to existing storage systems. At least double the capability of the Altix is desirable.

“[The procurement will] provide a large-memory system with processor and software compatibility with other systems available to CSIRO users from their desktops to the National Facility systems.”

According to the documents, the processors of the new system would be closely compatible with those in Australian National University's National Computational Infrastructure high performance cluster, the Bureau of Meteorology's Sun Constellation Intel-based systems and the CSIRO ASC’s burnet replacement Westmere-based cluster.

The system will also feature at least 128 cores and one terabyte of globally addressable memory, either shared or non-uniform memory architecture (NUMA), addressable by every processor.

Networking will feature a minimum of four 10 gigabit per second (Gbps) Ethernet interfaces, with capability of expansion to eight and a minimum of 16 Fibre Channel interfaces, with capability of expansion to 32.

Last March the CSIRO said it was to renew its IBM e1350-based high performance compute cluster located at the Bureau of Meteorology’s Head Office in Docklands, Victoria.

The renewal, expected to cost around $840,000, would enable the cluster to provide a range of additional services including specialised cluster services for CSIRO’s Mathematics, Informatics and Statistics division and commercial-in-confidence computing, which is required to be done on CSIRO-owned hosts.

Follow Tim Lohman on Twitter: @tlohman

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