NCI Australia Joins OpenPOWER Foundation

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nciAustralia’s National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) has become the first Australian organization to join the OpenPOWER Foundation, a global open technical community enabling collaborative development and industry growth. NCI has additionally purchased four of IBM’s latest Power System servers for High Performance Computing to underpin its research efforts through artificial intelligence, deep learning, high performance data analytics and other compute-heavy workloads.

To be the first ever Australian organization to join the OpenPOWER Foundation provides recognition of NCI’s standing, and represents a step toward a more heterogeneous architecture,” said Allan Williams, Associate Director (Services and Technologies), NCI.

The news means NCI will for the first time introduce an open architecture solution and IBM Power Systems for HPC technology into its data centre providing increased flexibility, optimization, efficiency and a bespoke solution that directly supports its needs.

Today’s announcement follows a collaborative development process with the IBM Australia Development Laboratory (ADL) and its Linux and Open Technology team, based in Canberra. The ADL provides OpenPOWER development capability and locally develops IBM’s Power System firmware. NCI’s decision to purchase the new IBM Power System servers was strongly influenced by its direct access to the local IBM Power Systems development team.

NCI provides world-class services to Australian researchers, industry and government. A wide range of applications are run on NCI to support crucial national research projects, including climate and weather modeling, satellite data for environmental monitoring and genomics research. NCI will use the initial four IBM Power Systems HPC servers to run its top five graphics processing unit (GPU) based workloads to assess their performance.

Having the local IBM Power development team at our fingertips in Australia and being able to work with them in a truly collaborative fashion was critical to our decision to purchase the new IBM Power System S822LC for HPC servers. The new Power architecture provides the ideal infrastructure for GPU-based workloads.”

Released in September 2016, the new series of IBM servers are designed to help propel AI and cognitive workloads and to drive greater data center efficiency. Featuring a new chip, the opensource lineup incorporates innovations from the OpenPOWER community that deliver higher levels of performance and greater computing efficiency than available on any x86-based server.

In order to tackle the challenges of today’s world –from cancer to climate change –organizations need accelerated computing that can drive big data workloads. NCI plays a critical role in supporting some of Australia’s largest research projects, and this new system and architecture will be key for it to achieve higher levels of performance and greater computing efficiency,” said Mike Schulze, Director, IBM Australia Development Laboratory.

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