A partir de mayo, Argentina dispondrá por primera vez de una supercomputer capaz de integrar la lista TOP 500 of the most powerful computers in the world and, unlike others that conform to this ranking, its enormous computing capacity of two “petaFLOPS” it will be at the service of scientists and research centers of all countriessegún explicaron desde el Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (Mincyt) a cargo de su acquisition.
“Será una de las tres o cuatro más importantes de la región y va a funcionar en el Servicio Meteorológico Nacional (SMN) that is the place where they need the most powerful data interconnection, but as this use represents 10% of the (capacity of) the computer, the remaining 90% will be available for all the demands of the scientific system and will be a very important tool” for the sector, minister Daniel Filmus said last week.
The procurement process framed by the National Supercomputing Initiative (Mincyt, Ministerio de Defensa, Conicet and SMN) is proceeding apace: last Wednesday, the deadline for submitting bids for the purchase auction and the opening of envelopes showed that there are three companies in the race, capable of covering the requirements without exceeding the budget of five million dollars. Bull, Hewlett Packard and Lenovo are the last three firms that bid in the auction.
“Before the end of the year, we will know who the winner is and we hope that by May of the coming year it will be installed and working,” said Juan Pablo Paz, Secretary of Scientific and Technological Articulation of the Ministry of Science, to Télam-Confiar. .
A supercomputer is a computer with calculation capabilities much superior to the common ones, which is also oriented towards specific goals. The majority of supercomputers are composed of many CPUs (Unidades Centrales de Procesamiento, por su sigla en inglés), less powerful but working together with a common objective, increasing both the power of the set and its performance.
The unit of measure usually used to express the computing power of a supercomputer is “FLOPS”, the acronym in English for “Operaciones de Coma Flotante por Segundo” (Floating Point Operations Per Second) which refers to “how many mathematical operations that involve números reales con decimales por segundo puede hacer”, explained Paz.
Currently, PetaFLOPS is used as a measure, and since the prefix “peta” refers to a factor of 10 to the 15th power, petaFLOPS is equivalent to a thousand billion FLOPS. Other ways to express power are “ExaFLOPS” (10 to 18°), “teraFLOPS” (10 to 12°), “gigaFLOPS” (10 to 9°) or “megaFLOPS” (10 to 6°) .
La que va a acquirador el Estado argentino través de su ministerio de Ciencia, has a real maximum performance of two petaFLOPS or 2,000 teraFLOPS, with the particularity that it will be possible in the future to expand the calculation capacity by adding processing units without the need to modify the estructura de base.
“En la licitación ese minimum requirement (of power) but the offers por lo que yo sé están por arriba de eso, con lo cual yo estoy absolutely sure de que esta machine va a estar en el TOP 500”, said Paz.
The TOP 500 is a global reference list and biannual update of the 500 most powerful supercomputers in the world using the “Linpack” comparative performance test.
“At this moment in Argentina, the biggest computer that is running is a dedicated computer, which means that it is not open to the science and technology system, but the one that continuously uses the SMN to make the forecast.” contó el funcionario.
This cluster called “Huayra Muyu” was acquired in 2018 and has a performance of 370 teraFLOPS, that is, 0.37 petaFLOPS. Other Argentine supercomputers include TUPAC with 54 TeraFLOPS, Eulogia with 37 TeraFLOPS and Pirayú with 26 TeraFLOPS.
The new Argentine supercomputer that still has no name, “and it will be installed in the SMN, but it will not be from that organism, but it will be administered by the National Computer System of High Disability (SNCAD)”, a network of centers belonging to the sistema científico y académico interconectado creada en 2010.
“It is to say that any researcher or researcher anywhere in the country can submit a request to use this supercomputer, including a description of the problem they are working on, justifying it and showing that they have trained human resources to make good use of this equipment that they have sophisticated”, he explained.
The applications are evaluated “by the SNCAD advisory council” which is integrated by 23 experts representing the National Interuniversity Council, the Minyncit, the CONAE, Segemar, CNEA, INTI, Conicet, INTA – among others- who will approve them he no”.
“In Argentina, many scientists who do not satisfy their computer needs (in the country) do what they do and establish relations with foreign groups who have access to supercomputer systems, with the term losing independence due to the requirement of mutual benefit.” he said.
As part of the acquisition and commissioning project, the physical space of 40 square meters where the equipment will operate will also be adapted, including the installation of a water cooling system and another fire retardant, with a total investment of 1.8 million de dollars a cargo del Ministerio de Defensa.
“This supercomputer will increase the capacity of the country in general, and of the SMN in particular, to do science, to do numerical experiments that in our case are very computationally expensive and that we cannot perform today with the computer system that we have because it is “dedicated exclusively to the weather forecasting system,” SMN director Celeste Saulo said last August.
This type of equipment is indispensable for – among other things – the preparation of meteorological forecasts; the modeling of complex systems; los estudios de genómica; the design of pharmaceuticals; the development of new materials; el diseño industrial; el modelado de cuencas petroleras y gasíferas; the development of artificial intelligence; and science of data.
“In Argentina we have good scientists and good training beyond the recurrent crises that motivated exiles in the past; but what we do not have today is a scientific system with capacity for dialogue and interaction between different institutions with logic, coherence, institutionality and stability. Hacia allí queremos avanzar”, he concluded.