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A*STAR’s InfiniCortex paving the way for Singapore’s National Supercomputing Centre to be launched this year

OpenGov recently announced that the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is working to launch Singapore’s National Supercomputer Centre. This will be the most powerful computer in Asia- providing new opportunities for research initiatives to process data at a tremendous speed.

When we arrived to the A*STAR Computational Resource Centre (A*CRC) for our visit, we were happy to hear that 40 racks (the Supercomputer) had just arrived the previous day. The process to build the region’s fastest computer was underway, with just a few months left until its launch.

Now, how did A*CRC get to this level of supercomputing power and prestige? They first developed the InfiniCortex.

sg nscc floor 17

OpenGov spoke to Dr. Marek Michalewicz, CEO of A*CRC, about how the InfiniCortex was conceptualised, and learned more about the recent developments towards the launch of the National Super Computer Centre (NSCC).

InfiniCortex and a Galaxy of Supercomputers

Before we understand more about the NSCC, we must understand the road A*CRC took to get to this point.

InfiniCortex is concurrent supercomputing across the globe utilising trans-continental InfiniBand and a Galaxy of Supercomputers. The InfiniCortex allows for running workflows and applications on such a distributed computational infrastructure.

InfiniCortex was conceptualised out of the ACA 100 challenge, announced January 2014. This challenge prompted the R&E community to create a high bandwidth network (100 Gbps per second) between Asia and the US.

A*CRC took on this challenge, and less than one year, InfiniCortex was demonstrated in November 2014 on a show floor in the United States, running a connection from Singapore. This is when such high bandwidth intercontinental connectivity between Asia and the USA was verified for the first time.

InfiniBand technology worked over trans-continental distances using range extenders and connected separate InfiniBand sub-nets with different net topologies to create a single computational resource, the Galaxy of Supercomputers.

“InfiniCortex is not grid, it is not cloud, and certainly not internet,” Dr. Gabriel Noaje, Senior Computational Scientist, A*CRC, emphasised, “This is a scientific network… and it is in close connection to research work on interconnected topologies.”

The second phase of the InfiniCortex created a connection from Europe to Asia, completing a circle around the world. This was done early 2015 through a network of native Infiniband across continents.

Since its establishment, InfiniCortex has upheld a standard for setting up the first high bandwidth network reaching from Asia to America, and all the way across the world.

These achievements have allowed for greater scientific and technological research capabilities and has paved the way towards the development of Singapore’s National Supercomputing Centre which is to be unveiled later this year.

National Supercomputer Centre Coming Mid-2016

Singapore’s National Supercomputing Centre (NSCC) will be a state-of-the-art national facility with computing, data and resources to enable users to solve science and technological problems, and stimulate industry to use computing for problem solving, testing designs and advancing technologies.

The National Supercomputing Centre, as it will be provisioned by the Science, Technology and Research Network (STAR-N), is expected to provide:

  • A high bandwidth network to connect the distributed login nodes
  • High speed access to users (both public and private) anywhere
  • Support in the transfer of large data sets (both locally and internationally)
  • Local and international network connectivity
  • Access to genomic data located in ASEAN, USA, Europe, Australia, Japan, and Middle East

Several institutes of higher learning, such as NUS, NTU, SUTD, and polytechnics, are partnering with A*STAR to utilise the facilities at the National Supercomputing Centre, once it is unveiled. They will be able to be granted access the supercomputer centre when it launches at Fusionopolis in 2016.

sg infiniband

With National Supercomputing Centre expected to feature +1 PetaFLOP, 10+ PB of Storage, and 500 Gbps flash burst buffer, the new facilities will meet the greater demands of research and provide greater opportunities to outside industries.

Leading up to the introduction of Singapore’s National Supercomputing Centre, A*CRC will host Supercomputing Frontiers 2016. This gathering will explore global trends and innovations in high performance computing in convolution of several important areas.

“We have worked so hard over the past several years in order to get here,” said Dr. Marek Michalewicz, “We will have the largest supercomputer in this region of the world.”

The A*CRC is expecting to host huge game changers in the super computing arena, and others, including Baroness Susan Greenfield. Baroness Greenfield is known for her research in brain physiology.

“It won’t be just geeks talking about supercomputing, but experts in areas like neuroscience, talking about artificial intelligence,” said Dr. Marek Michalewicz.

A long term reach goal for the supercomputing community is to create Global Brain. Global Brain would represent a global supercomputing network that will enable speeds and processing beyond any current capabilities.

(Photo- From the left: Lai Loung Fong (A*STAR), Lim Seng (A*CRC), Dr. Gabriel Noaje (A*CRC), Jon Lau (NSCC), Dr Marek T. Michalewicz (A*CRC), Andrew Sorensen (NCI, Australia), Tan Geok Lian (A*CRC), Dr Ben Swift (NCI, Australia) Lukasz P. Orlowski (A*CRC), Dr.  Liou Sing-Wu (A*CRC), Prof. Tan Tin Wee (NSCC and A*CRC), Dr. John Kan (A*STAR), Jason Gunthorpe (Obsidian Strategics), Dr. Jonathan Low (A*CRC), Firat Coskun (Stony Brook U.) and Steve Tolnai (HP Enterprise))

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