35,000-Core Aussie Supercomputer to Feature ‘Haswell’ Chips

By Tiffany Trader

May 13, 2014

Western Australian research organization iVEC has revealed that its latest-generation Cray XC30 will be decked out with 35,000 Intel cores when a scheduled upgrade is completed later this year. According to the 2012 plan, Magnus, the phase 2 system installed at the Pawsey Centre in Perth, Western Australia, will employ a combination of Intel Ivy Bridge, Haswell and MIC processors.

iVEC Magnus Cray

The upgrades will rocket the machine’s total performance output from 69 teraflops to over one petaflops, marking a new computing era for Western Australian science.

Currently Magnus, which means “great” in Latin, is equipped with Intel Sandy Bridge Xeon E5-2670 processors running at 2.6 GHz. Its next incarnation will incorporate the future Intel Xeon processor E5-2600 v3 product family (former codenamed Haswell). Due out at the end of Q3 2014, the new chips will be clocked 100 – 200 MHz higher than current generation Xeons.

Overseen by iVEC and CSIRO, the Pawsey Centre supports a number of research areas, including the data-intensive science coming out of the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) and Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescopes. The Center currently operates two XC30 supercomputers, Magnus and Galaxy. The latter is primarily dedicated to radio astronomy and geosciences workloads, while Magnus will be called on to support a full range of scientific disciplines. The XC30 is notable for being the first Cray series to feature Intel Xeon processors.

In a recent announcement, iVEC noted that the phase 2 system “is expected to be the most powerful supercomputer in the southern hemisphere.”

“This greatly enhances the future Australian research outcomes iVEC will deliver,” iVEC added. “Scientists using the new second stage resources at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre will be able to achieve world-class research outcomes and break new ground in a range of cutting edge areas of research.”

When it comes to international supercomputer rankings, Australia is making a name for itself. Depending on the degree of list churn, Magnus could soon join Galaxy and five other systems on the next edition of the TOP500 list, due out next month. Australia’s current fastest number crucher is located at Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. Named Raijin after the Japanese God of Thunder, the 1.2 petaflop Fujitsu machine has been assisting climate researchers since it went online last June.

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