Dr Joseph Antony, NCI Cloud Services Manager

The National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) has signed a $2 million contract with Dell to supply a 3,200 core high-performance compute cloud.

The agreement will see the establishment of a node of the National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources (NeCTAR) Research Cloud within Australia's richest computational and data-intensive research environment.

NCI Director Professor Lindsay Botten said the node builds on NCI's existing portfolio of cloud services and digital laboratories, creating an integrated platform that will be an enabler of more ambitious research goals.

"The establishment of a cloud alongside the NCI petascale supercomputer and the National High-Performance Data Node of the Research Data Storage Infrastructure (RDSI) initiative will enhance the scale of data-intensive science, leveraging the impact and value of each infrastructure component.

"As the nature of research becomes increasingly collaborative, the cloud will support users with self-service abilities to publish research data, share knowledge and rapidly access software applications.

"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 from the extensive software library via an implementation of the NCI operating environment in a virtual machine," said Professor Botten.

The signing of the contract with Dell will see the development of comprehensive digital laboratories which will advance research in climate change, earth system science, the environment and the geosciences, and simultaneously provide valued computational services which serve the needs of other national communities undertaking high impact research.

"The NCI solution is a testament to the progress Dell has made in being able to provide end-to-end solutions for all of our customers," said Joe Kremer, managing director, Dell Australia and New Zealand.  "What we developed with NCI is a unique open-stack cloud solution that showcases the power and potential of the cloud, and will enable greater collaboration, research and development for all Australians."

Dr Joseph Antony, NCI Cloud Services Manager said that the new science cloud will provide Australian researchers, for the first time, on-demand access to high-performance compute and storage resources which provides increased technological capabilities  compared to commercial and academic cloud offerings.

"The distinguishing and innovative characteristics of the NCI node are the use of floating-point optimized Intel CPUs, high performance Intel SSDs for demanding high-IOPS science workloads and a fat-tree 56Gbps Mellanox Ethernet interconnect – all of which are not the main stay of commercial or academic cloud offerings.

"The multiplier effect from hosting the node at the NCI comes from holistic access to research artefacts generated on Raijin, deep integration with both archival storage and online fast disk and demonstrated fast 10GigE wide-area network access to international and local research network backbones using SXTransPORT and AARNet," said Dr Antony.

The cloud will complement the compute power of Australia's highest performance supercomputer, Raijin, a 1.2 petaflop Fujitsu Primergy cluster (ranked #27 in the world) with 57,472 cores, 160 Tbytes of memory, 10 petabytes of storage, and a Mellanox FDR Infiniband interconnect with 9 terabytes per second bandwidth.

NCI is supported by the Australian Government, most recently through a $50 million grant under its Super Science Initiative to develop its petascale computer. NCI collaborators include leading research organisations ANU, CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia and consortia of research-intensive universities supported by the Australian Research Council.

NCI is pleased to be working in partnership with NeCTAR to establish a high-performance node of the NeCTAR Research Cloud that will advance data-intensive services nationally, and extend the reach of advanced computational services from NCI.

The Australian Government's Super Science Initiative also funds NeCTAR, led by the University of Melbourne, through a $47 million grant and RDSI, led by the University of Queensland, through another $50 million.

Media Contact Information

For interviews contact:

 Lucy Guest, NCI Communications Manager 02 6125 2547 / 0478 879 347.

Andy Scales, PPR for Dell: Tel. 0404 253991 Email: ascales@ppr.com.au