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CHPC Propels Supercomputing in South Africa

Noxolo Moyake, CHPC

Noxolo Moyake, CHPC

Over at TOP500.org, CHPC Communications Manager Noxolo Moyake describes how the South African Center for High Performance Computing is fostering the use of supercomputing in the region.

The Centre for High Performance Computing was launched in 2007 and was subsequently supported by the South African Research Network to connect researchers from a number of universities and research councils and to enable South African researchers to contribute to regional and international research efforts. The two bodies formed what is known as the South African Cyberinfrastructure. Once a national resource of this magnitude is established, it must be promoted and used.

chpcCHPC uses several tactics to encourage and develop use of HPC in South Africa:

  • Flagship Projects (2007-2014). CHPC grants two-year funding to eleven flagship projects across a number of research domains. Each project’s aim is to solve a major scientific or socio-economic challenge in South Africa and in Africa, in general, using the centre’s computational resources. The use of HPC resources provided training and exposure to parallel computing and set the ground for the development of additional HPC capacity in South Africa.
  • Human Capital Development. The centre offers internships, studentships and year-round training courses to its users to ensure they make optimal use of the resources. The CHPC Winter School, usually attended by about 100 students, is a favorite among computer science and computer engineering students across South African universities.
  • Student Cluster Competition. In 2012 the centre introduced the Student Cluster Competition as a component of its Winter School. Students are introduced to parallel programming and taken through the various aspects of the competition. They are then divided into groups and given an assignment that determines which groups will proceed to the national competition that takes place at the annual CHPC National Meeting in December. The winning national team proceeds to represent the country at the lSC Student Cluster Challenge held by the annual ISC High Performance Conference in Germany.
  • CHPC National Meeting. The annual meeting serves as a showpiece of the work done by the centre each year through the research that is performed by the users. It also provides a platform for users to gain knowledge of the advances in HPC through carefully selected plenary speakers. Furthermore, the meeting that also provides opportunity for users to provide feedback on the centre’s infrastructure and to undergo training.

As for the future, Moyake notes that CHPC will be a critical resource for tackling the big scientific challenges of the continent, such as the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), climate research, and data-intensive applications in the big data regime.

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