Sunday, October 4, 2015

Self-sustained Supercomputing Centers in Latin America

Some supercomputing centers in the region start with initial seed funds coming from the government, academic institutions, or donation. However, they receive a clear mandate to operate: be self sufficient. That is the case of Mexico's National Supercomputing Center (CNS) at the Instituto Potosiano de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica (Ipicyt).

The CNS houses a powerful supercomputer, named Thubat-Kaal (the first and fastest in Tenek language). It is an IBM machine that runs LINPACK at 107TFlops. It comprises 5640 cores from Intel Xeon processors. There are 140 nodes with 2 8-core processors each, and 25 nodes equipped with an additional pair of Intel Xeon Phi 5110 co-processors. It has a total storage capacity of 1.5 petabytes and uses an Infiniband interconnect. Thubat-Kaal appeared in the Top500 list in June, 2013. This machine is used by the CNS to provide a range of services for companies in energy, finance, life sciences, digital media, engineering, and design. In particular, CNS assists companies in modeling products, data analytics, and general simulation.

Along with the supercomputing services, the CNS provides several other services to fulfill its mission of self-sustainability. More specifically, CNS also develops applications, provides IT consulting, offers a data center, and assists in the installation of networks and telecommunications.

Although the CNS does not have a research branch itself, it provides allocation grants on its supercomputer for academic use. Therefore, scientists and engineers from Mexico can access the full power of Thubat-Kaal and exploit this useful resource to accelerate their discoveries.