In my “old days” with the Sun Microsystems HPC group, one of our key wins was the TOP5 Ranger Supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center. Now, Jorge Salazar over at TACC writes that the decommissioned Ranger has found a new home at CHPC in South Africa.
Ranger was the first supercomputer in open science to approach the petascale mark,” said Happy Sithole (pronounced ‘see-toll-yah’), director of the Center for High Performance Computing (CHPC) in Cape Town, South Africa. “Now, it is starting projects that are important in building high performance computing in Africa.”
Ranger was powered by a network of 62,976 cores packed into 15,744 quad-core AMD Opteron microprocessors, all networked by an innovative InfiniBand interconnect switch named Magnum designed by Sun Microsystems. Ranger debuted as the fifth most powerful computer in the world on the June 2008 Top 500 list, and it was hailed by the NSF as the most powerful supercomputing system in the world for open science research.
Chris Jordan, manager of TACC’s Data Management and Collections group, made the journey to Cape Town. He was invited to give presentations at a workshop on high performance computing, and there, the idea to send Ranger to Africa took hold.
Because Ranger was mostly a commodity cluster, any individual rack could be a standalone machine. TACC shipped 20 racks to several universities within South Africa. “They’ll be able to teach parallel computing and do local science on campuses where they had no infrastructure at all,” Jordan said.
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