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Dell EMC wraps up $4 million CSIRO supercomputer build

Leon Spencer | July 20, 2017
New system to help expand Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation's capability in deep learning.

CSIRO Australia

Dell EMC has been revealed as the technology partner tasked with building the Australian national science agency's new $4 million supercomputer system, which went live in early July.

The tech company announced on 18 July it had worked with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to build the agency's new large-scale scientific computing system.

The project is aimed at expanding the CSIRO's capability in deep learning, a key approach to furthering progress towards artificial intelligence (AI).

CSIRO put the call out for tenders in November 2016 to build the new system with a $4 million budget. At the time, the agency said it was searching for a technology partner to replace its existing BRAGG supercomputer with a petaflop-grade advanced accelerator compute cluster.

At the time, the new system was slated to be located in the same CSIRO data centre space where the BRAGG system resided at the Information Management and Technology (IMT) facility in Canberra.

The procurement had a fixed budget of $4 million, which included hardware, software licensing, maintenance, and support requirements, installation, and commissioning costs.

Following Dell EMC's successful tender proposal, the new system was installed in just five days across May and June 2017. The system is now live and began production in early July 2017. It is expected to clock up speeds in excess of one petaflop.

The new system, named 'Bracewell' after Australian astronomer and engineer Ronald N. Bracewell, is built on Dell EMC's PowerEdge platform.

The infrastructure includes other partner technology, such as GPUs for computation and InfiniBand networking, which pieces all the compute nodes together in a low latency and high bandwidth solution designed to be faster than traditional networking.

Dell EMC A/NZ high performance computing lead, Andrew Underwood, said that the installation process was streamlined and optimised for deep learning applications, with Bright Cluster Manager technology helping to put the frameworks in place.

"Our system removes the complexity from the installation, management and use of artificial intelligence frameworks, and has enabled CSIRO to speed up its time to results for scientific outcomes, which will in turn boost Australia's competitiveness in the global economy." Mr. Underwood said.

The new system includes 114 PowerEdge C4130 with NVIDIA Tesla P100 GPUs, NVLINK, dual Intel Xeon processors and 100Gbps Mellanox EDR InfiniBand, totaling 1,634,304 CUDA Compute Cores, 3,192 Xeon Compute Cores, 29TB RAM, plus Bright Cluster Manager Software 8.0.

In addition to artificial intelligence, the new system is aimed at providing capability for research in areas as diverse as virtual screening for therapeutic treatments, traffic and logistics optimisation, modelling of new material structures and compositions, machine learning for image recognition and pattern analysis.


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