NCI adds high-performance capability to NeCTAR Research Cloud

NCI adds high-performance capability to NeCTAR Research Cloud
April 7, 2014 Fuller

NeCTAR welcomes National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) to the NeCTAR Research Cloud, and congratulates the NCI team on commissioning their public cloud node in early April 2014.

The NCI Research Cloud node adds an additional 3200 CPU cores to those already available from the existing nodes at the University of Melbourne, Monash University, the Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation, and eResearch South Australia, boosting the cloud's total capacity to 13,000 CPU cores.

NCI, based at The Australian National University in Canberra, provides world-class and high-end national research computing services to Australia’s researchers, the primary objectives of which are to raise the ambition, impact, and outcomes of Australian research through access to advanced computational and data-intensive methods, support, and high-performance infrastructure.

Professor Lindsay Botten, NCI Director: “The research cloud creates exciting new research and collaboration opportunities for National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) researchers in Australia and we are excited to be part of this world-first Australian federated initiative.”

“The NCI Research Cloud node builds on our existing, strong portfolio of cloud services and digital laboratories, demonstrating the critical value of the cloud, within an integrated platform, as an enabler of more ambitious research goals. Its establishment alongside the NCI petascale supercomputer and the National High-Performance Data Node of the RDSI will provide an international-standard environment for computational and data-intensive science, leveraging the impact and value of each infrastructure component.

The NCI node has been designed to deliver researchers a high-performance environment in the form of floating-point optimised CPUs, node-local Solid State Drives, fast 56Gbps intra-node networking, and a dedicated 10 gigabit Ethernet connection to AARNET (Australia's Academic and Research Network).

NCI Director Professor Lindsay Botten said: “The node capability will be enhanced by NCI’s investment in high-performance hardware (Infiniband interconnect, large memory, and accelerators) and will provide extended access to cloud-appropriate applications/packages from the extensive NCI software library via an implementation of the NCI operating environment in a virtual machine. The proposal is backed by $2.416M in co-investment, sustaining the node to December 2015.”

NeCTAR Director, Glenn Moloney said: “Thanks to NCI’s efforts, researchers using the NeCTAR cloud now have access to CPU cores specifically targetted at high-performance computation. This new capabillity complements the existing Research Cloud, providing researchers with more capacity to compute, collaborate, share, discover and innovate. We look forward to other cloud nodes joining the federation in coming months.”

Professor Botten said the NCI Research Cloud node will:

  • Enhance the scale and reach of data-intensive science nationally, through an integrated environment providing comprehensive support for community-developed and supported digital laboratories;
  • Realise synergies with national infrastructure through an integrated, high-performance environment comprising a NeCTAR cloud node, a specialist node of the RDSI, the NCI supercomputing facility (EIF Climate HPC Project), together with expert support to deliver heightened research outcomes;
  • Provide generic cloud resources, and also tailored facilities through NCI-funded hardware enhancements, establishing environments tailored to community needs; and
  • Be supported by a sustainable business model (2012–15) involving contributions from four national organisations—the CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia, and ANU.

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