Friday, Sep 30, 2022

Stress testing a supercomputer can be done by processing a supernova

Instead of sitting through boring stress tests software run after another to test your new hardware you could let your computer process radio..


Instead of sitting through boring stress tests software run after another to test your new hardware you could let your computer process radio telescope observations from dying stars. Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre, Australia, has been using Setonix to create one of the most stunning images of supernova remnants that I have ever seen.

The Pawsey supercomputer, which is AMD-powered, was named after the quokka (opens new tab) (Setonix brachyurus). This machine was tested using data from the 36 antennas of CSIRO’s Askap (opens new tab) (Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder). It proved to be very robust (via The Conversation (opens new tab).

Setonix was given the task of processing complex data, sent through a series high-speed optical fibers. The images were then separated across hundreds of frequencies. The images were then combined by Setonix.

It was able to gather all the data and produce an image of the supernova (SNR) G261.9+05.5. This image was first brought to CSIRO's notice in 1967. It is located approximately 13,000 light years from our planet.

It is amazing to me that the Setonix machine was decorated by Margaret Whitehurst, Wajarri Yamatji's artist. She was inspired by the stars over Wajarri Country in Western Australia's Mid-West.

Let's not forget about art. We now turn our attention to science.

The data was chosen specifically to test the supercomputer’s hardware, and it passed. It was also able determine the clout for the Askap processing software ASKAPsoft. Setonix, an EX model supercomputer by HPE Cray (opens new tab), consists of the following.

More than 500 AMD EPYC “Milan” CPU nodes (65k total cores), 2.55GHz, 2 per core, 256GB each nodeEight 1TB high mem CPU nodesEight data mover nodesEight data mover nodesSixteen visualization nodesFour login nodesConnected to HPE's Slingshot Interconnect (100Gb/sec),Lustre file system (14 PB, 3 SSD, 11 HDD)

Best CPU for Gaming (opens new tab]: The best chips from Intel and AMD. Best gaming motherboard (opens new tab]: The right boards. Best graphics card (opens new tab]: Your perfect pixel-pusher is waiting. Best SSD for Gaming (opens new tab]: Play the best game of all.

While it is unlikely that the rest of us will be able to afford such hardware, there are still ways that you can make your computer useful for science. [email protected] (opens new tab) is not able to stress-test your computer, but it can be used to help scientists find cures for diseases like cancer, ALS and Huntington's.

[email protected] opens in new tab. If you are looking for something more unusual, you can also track them and possibly help to study the origins our solar system. Give it a try!

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