Wednesday, September 9, 2015

First Petascale supercomputer in Latin America now installed at LNCC

The Brazilian National Scientific Computing Laboratory (LNCChas received an upgrade in its processing power with the installation of a Petascale supercomputer from Bull (Atos Technologies). Named Santos Dummont in reference to the Brazilian aviation pioneer, the supercomputer has the capacity for 1.1 PFLOPS, putting it above all other HPC platforms in Latin America.

The Santos Dummont supercomputer (source: LNCC)
This processing power comes from three different kinds of nodes in the supercomputer:
  • 32 bullx chassis forming a total of 576 Thin Compute Nodes (Intel Ivy Bridge processors only)
  • 32 bullx chassis forming a total of 288 Hybrid Compute Nodes (including 396 Nvidia K40 GPUs and 108 Intel Xeon Phi 7110X)
  • 1 bullx chassis forming one Fat Compute Node (16 Intel Ivy Bridge processors and 6 TB of shared memory).
The computing nodes will have access to 1.5 PB of storage using Lustre, with a bandwidth of over 30 GB/s for both reads and writes.

Current tests with Linpack put the aggregated performance of Santos Dummont around 0.8 PFLOPS, leaving it around the 85th position in Top500.

With a purchase process started in 2009, the Brazilian government invested R$60 million (~16 million USD) in the supercomputer and infrastructure. Its presence in the city of Petrópolis (RJ) is expected to develop a supercomputing reference center and to attract new companies to the region (a Bull research center is already confirmed).

The presence of a Petaflopic machine in Latin America is of great importance. Nevertheless, it also shows how behind the region is when compared to the others. For instance, North America achieved this landmark in 2008, while Europe and Asia achieved it in 2009. 

The supercomputer is planned to be integrated in the Brazilian National High Performance Computing System (SINAPAD) in the near future. This upgrade corresponds to an increase of over 6 times in the current computing power available for researchers. As its test period is coming to an end, we expect to see new research developments in areas such as energy, civil engineering, nanotechnology, meteorology, oceanography, and life sciences soon.