At the Centre for High-Performance Computing (CHPC) in South Africa, the mission is to enable cutting-edge research by supporting the highest levels of HPC available. That means ensuring researchers – who often are not experienced with computers let alone HPC systems – to get their work done with the HPC getting in the way.
In 2014 the CHPC made a change in HPC workload managers – and the results were “Wow.” The CHPC’s Technical Manager, Dorah Thobye, describes their experience with Altair’s PBS Works products in a recent video interview.
A Mission to Extend the Reach of HPC
The main objectives of the CHPC are to enable South Africa to become globally competitive and to accelerate Africa’s socio-economic rise through the effective application of high-end cyberinfrastructure. In its vision, CHPC wants to become an accomplished and preferred partner for HPC solutions.
That means choosing middleware that operate so well, it becomes part of the reliable, always-there background. As the CHPC’s Dorah Thobye says, “CHPC is the hub of HPC in South Africa. Most of the scientists are not familiar with the computer, so as the main hub we concentrate on the HPC side so they are able to do their research without actually dealing with the complexity of the compeer side.”
Choosing the Right Vendor
The CHPC decided to make a change in their resource management vendor and switched to Altair’s PBS Professional. Since then, the Centre has learned what a difference the HPC vendor can make.
According to Thobye, “The service I’m getting from Altair is beyond expectation. I’ve worked with several companies and haven’t got someone who is so committed…. We just started with Altair, but what they have done is like we have been years in this relationship. For me it’s Wow.”
Improving Workload Management and Analytics
With the CHPC’s 700+ users, they need a reliable workload manager that can handle their diverse user landscape. Altair PBS Professional was able to help the HPC reduce complexity. In addition, with Altair’s PBS Analytics product CHPC is “able to get the type of reports we were looking for but couldn’t get with another scheduler, so we are able to manage our resources and report back to top management – we are able to give them the figures and statistics on how the resources are being used.”
CHPC is also planning to update to the new 13.0 version of PBS Professional, due to the increased scalability. As Thobye says, “With PBS Professional 13.0 we will have improved scalability and performance to support our hundreds of users. Also, PBS Professional 13.0 will help CHPC support our future growth as we go toward petascale, and eventually exascale in the future. With PBS 13 we are prepared to go to that level – it’s not only important for scaling our jobs but also scaling our system as we go forward.”