SARAO High Performance Computing Overview

THE SOUTH AFRICAN RADIO ASTRONOMY OBSERVATORY (SARAO) HOSTS THE MEERKAT RADIO TELESCOPE, SITUATED AT LOSBERG IN THE NORTHERN CAPE PROVINCE OF SOUTH AFRICA.

The MeerKAT radio telescope produces magnificent images

A High Performance Computing (HPC) system underpins the telescope. These systems provide state of the art performance at a particularly aggressive price point, providing innovative technology solutions.

SARAO is actively seeking partners and commercialisation opportunities within the HPC space, and is well positioned to offer transformative technologies at hitherto unachievable price points.

PORTFOLIO

The following provides some insight into the current and near-term SARAO HPC product portfolio.

HIGH PERFORMANCE HIGH CAPACITY STORAGE

Data Storage System – High Capacity (DSS-HC): As deployed in the MeerKAT science archive, this low cost, high capacity storage appliance is designed and manufactured in South Africa and offers significant cost saving over other commercially available solutions. It can also be customized for different applications. Combined with the high performance object storage software layer, large-scale turnkey deployments typically see a two to three times saving over a five year total cost of ownership compared to vendor solutions.

CEPH: CEPH is the software layer that underpins the massive storage deployed in the MeerKAT science archive. A large ecosystem of internally developed products complement the core CEPH architecture to provide a user friendly, easy to maintain solution to Peta-scale storage requirements.

Cascade (in development): Leveraging DSS-HC, Data Storage System – High Speed (DSS-HS) (all flash storage appliance) and the in-development tape library, we plan a fully tiered storage system from memory through to tape that will offer industry leading performance.

ENERGY EFFICIENT COMPUTE

IronHive (in development): A ruggedised, embedded computer system based microserver that provides exceptional energy efficiency, avoids the need for expensive data center infrastructure, and provides substantial in-band storage. The market for ruggedised designs is almost completely unserviced at this point, and an ecosystem of ruggedised compute and storage, able to operate in harsh environments, has enormous potential, particularly in the African context.

Efficient Design: Even without radical designs such as IronHive, there is much room for improvement in traditional HPC deployments. Our experience in architecting extremely cost effective and fit for purpose systems, provides a substantial competitive advantage and is a core focus of the systems integration offering.

ENERGY EFFICIENT STORAGE

Tape Library (in development): The last five years has seen a significant resurgence in tape as a cold, energy efficient medium for bulk data storage. Unfortunately many of the benefits of tapes are lost due to the high pricing for the robotised tape libraries and the cost of ongoing licenses. SARAO is well underway with an in-house tape library system, utilising off-the-shelf tape drives, that will realise five to ten times cost savings over a five year ownership period.

SOFTWARE

Platform Software (existing and in development): In addition to the basic software required to deliver a computer or storage system, there is a multitude of additional services that provide value to the customer. These include monitoring, logging, dashboards, schedulers and resource management. Again, SARAO has a significant catalogue of software products in this realm, and substantial experience to deploy and develop new products.

Applications (ongoing): The group is able to provide software consultancy, for co-design between user application and the delivered hardware to deliver exceptional efficiencies. In these situations we would provide software development effort to port applications and optimise code to suit the target platform.

For more information, contact:
SARAO Head: Engineering

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