Chances of South Africa being the holder of the next record-breaking supercomputer are extremely high. The supercomputer has Exabyte capacity and compute power in the Exaflops (floating point instructions per second) range.
Dr Happy Sithole, from the Centre for High Performance Computing (HPC), said that the new and powerful supercomputer will be necessary to process the huge volumes of complex data produced by the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope project.
“The centre currently runs a supercomputer that runs at 61,4Teraflops. Although it is in the world’s top 500 supercomputers, it is rapidly falling behind the global curve. And this computer is currently running at 93 percent capacity,” Dr Sithole says. “The world’s next biggest supercomputer will be in South Africa, and it will have Exascale capability.”
This gadget is not news to the country, as it uses the computer for big science projects like anaysing climate change, mineral beneficiation, bio-informatics and has designed both the new SKA dish and participated in 3D animated movies.
Other that the centre has participated in large-scale science projects like CERN, and performed 500 jobs a day for ALICE experiment that was responsible for discovering the Higgs Boson.
The telescopes, in the computer are being designed to have 100-times more sensitivity adding an enormous amount of data that needs to be processes and analysed.
The Doctor said that scientists will be able to study the evolution of galaxies through this sensitive radio telescopes.
“Because of the large scale dishes, there is a large amount of information coming in very fast, which needs fast data processing, which can’t be done with the computing we have today,” Said Sithole, quoting the main problem they could face.
SKA 1 anticipates data requirements of 100 Petaflops and up, increasing with SKA 2 to Exabytes of data requiring Exaflops of processing power.
“I see this as an opportunity for South Africa,” Dr Sithole says. “It is a challenge that is not just for the IT industry but for academia and government as well – in fact, for all of us.”
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