Irish University Preps for New Supercomputer


The National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway is getting ready to deploy a €5.4 million supercomputer, courtesy of the Science Foundation Ireland.

Although the system will be installed at Galway, it will be available as a national resource run by the Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC). The new machine will be tasked to support researchers in areas such as earth science, physics, material science, bioinformatics/life science, and, of course, AI.

“The future certainly lies in large amounts of data but without the appropriate high performance computing resources, data can become irrelevant,” said ICHEC Director, Professor JC Desplat from NUI Galway. “This upgraded national resource is essential to ensuring Ireland can compete internationally in key domains such as precision medicine, earth observation and artificial intelligence. It represents a crucial investment at a time where investments in high performance computing continue their strong growth globally.”

According the press release, the hardware is being provided by Intel, with Penguin Computing as the system integrator. The main partition, to be used for general-purpose HPC, will be comprised of 336 nodes, encompassing 13,440 CPU cores and 64 terabytes of memory. In addition, six large memory nodes, each outfitted with 1.5 terabytes of DRAM, as well as 32 accelerator nodes, equipped with either Intel Xeon Phi or NVIDIA P100 GPUs, will be included for more specialized application work. The nodes will be hooked together with Intel’s 100Gps Omni-Path fabric. External storage is being provided by DataDirect Networks, in the form of a one-petabyte data store, backed by a parallel filesystem.

The new system is in line to replace “Fionn,” which has been ICHEC’s primary supercomputer for academic researchers since it was installed in 2013. Like its successor, Fionn is made up of a combination of general-purpose nodes, fat-memory nodes, accelerator nodes. That system was built by SGI and topped out at 140 Linpack teraflops.

Fionn’s replacement will deliver about five times more computing capacity and draw approximately 50 percent more electrical power, while taking up the same amount of physical space. It’s scheduled to be installed this summer.

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