CHPC Brings World-Class HPC to Southern Hemisphere

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A new EE Publishers feature story by Hans van de Groenendaal showcases CHPC, the Centre for High Performance Computing and their vision make South Africa a premier destination for high-end computing in the southern hemisphere.

Housed at the CSIR in Cape Town, the CHPC’s SUN Constellation system is the fastest supercomputer in Africa and amongst the fastest in the world as rated by the list of top 500 super computers. The machine is made up of the latest Intel Nehalem 8-core processing units with a state-of-the-art on-rack water cooling system. Using its over 2000 processors and 400 TB of storage, along with its smaller siblings (the 256 processor 2 TB shared memory SUN M9000 and the 384-core SUN Harpertown cluster) the CHPC aims to enhance significant research, address grand challenges, and grow computational research into a viable mode alongside experiment and theory across all academic disciplines.

Besides its mission and geography, I think what makes CHPC interesting is how it effectively integrates “a whole zoo of architectures” including AMD Opteron, Intel Xeon, Power PC, Power 4+, and SPARC processors running a mixture of UNIX (Solaris), Linux (SLES), and Microsoft Windows HPC server 2008 operating systems and multiple resource managers including Moab Adaptive HPC Suite.

It must be working, because CHPC has documented a number of flagship projects including large-scale simulations of energy storage materials, regional Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Modelling, and modelling HIV-1 evolution.