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AMD scores 200,000 cores worth of secret silicon at new Australian supercomputer

Chips will power $34m machine doing Square Kilometre Array work and more

Australia’s Pawsey Supercomputing Centre has bet on unannounced AMD Epyc silicon to power a new 50-petaFLOP supercomputer.

The centre refused to reveal clock speeds or other details of the silicon to us but did say that it will comprise over 1,600 dual-socket nodes and utilise over 200,000 cores. Those figures yield a per-machine core count of 125. We're willing to round that up to 128 and suggest that the centre is betting on the forthcoming Milan edition of AMD’s Epyc processors, which is widely expected to debut late in 2020. Today's Rome generation already reaches 64 cores per CPU, so if Milan goes there, too, it won’t be a surprise.

Pawsey executive director Mark Stickells told The Register the silicon is “an AMD architecture that is not yet available but is the same as being installed in other exascale labs.”

The new ‘super will use HPE’s Cray EX architecture, pack over 750 GPUs, 548TB of RAM and put HPE’s Slingshot interconnect tech to work to pump at least 200Gb/sec of data into compute nodes and 800Gb/sec into GPU-equipped nodes.

The machine will supplant Pawsey’s current supers, Magnus and Galaxy, yet have a smaller footprint: it will occupy eight cabinets compared to the 11 housing its predecessors.

Square Kilometre Array precursor shrinks 5TB of data to 22MB – every second!


Installation will take place in two phases, with two racks worth to be installed in Q3 2021 before the rest follows by Q2 2022.

The Pawsey Centre is located in Western Australia, a state that has currently closed its borders to both the rest of Australia and the world due to the coronavirus pandemic. HPE told The Register that even if international borders are closed, it has local staff who can install the new super.

Among the tasks the new machine will perform is data ingestion for the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder, which is also located in Western Australia.

Pawsey executive director Stickells told us the new machine will be welcomed by local boffins, as Magnus has been more than doubly oversubscribed in 2020 and Australian scientists are as keen as any others to do some heavy data crunching.

The new machine has been budgeted at AU$48m (US$34m). ®

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