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CHPC recognised for HPC development in Mozambique

During the MoRENet (Mozambique Research Network) Conference held in Maputo, Mozambique, 10-11 December 2018, the CHPC was recognised for its contribution towards development of HPC in Mozambique. The honourable Minister of Science, Education and Technology, Prof. Jorge Nhambiu, issued the CHPC with a Certificate of Recognition received by Dr Werner Janse van Rensburg, CHPC Research Manager, at the closing ceremony of the MoRENet Conference. This recognition is a positive confirmation of the tireless efforts by CHPC Director, Dr Happy Sithole, to advance engagement with Mozambique as part of the CHPC Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Readiness program. The recognition in particular recognises a number of MoRENet engagement and collaboration events that took place in Mozambique in 2018 as part of the CHPC HPC Ecosystems Project, under leadership of Mr. Bryan Johnston. This include HPC site investigation visits, engagements with potential HPC users in Mozambique, deployment of two sets of HPC hardware (C6100 and Stampede equipment) and systems administrators training. In addition, continued collaboration with Mozambique as part of Southern African Development Commuity HPC initiatives, SKA ministerial engagements, recent initiatives for Mozambique towards European Organisation for Nuclear Research support as part of their HPC offering and the participation of Dr Janse van Rensburg as invited speaker at the MoRENet Conference, demonstrate the active engagement between the CHPC and MoRENet. The highly successful collaboration established in 2018 provides a sound basis for further growth in collaboration opportunities in 2019 between the CHPC and MoRENet.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 December 2018 10:44

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CHPC National Conference hits 500 mark

Over 500 delegates participated in the 2018 CHPC National Conference which took place in Cape Town early December. The conference consisted of local and international delegates as well as representatives from the South African Development Community (SADC).  

The comprehensive programme included national and international contributions as well as contributions from cyberinfrastructure system partners: the South African National Research Network and the Data Intensive Research Initiative of South Africa. Captains of the HPC Industry across the globe provided key talks and workshops during the conference week and they included: Patricia Damkrogel, Vice President and General Manager of Intel, Thomas Sterling from Indiana University, USA; Michael Foley who has recently retired from the World Bank, Bhekisipho Twala from the University of South Africa, Khutso  Ngoasheng from the South African  Radio Astronomy Observatory, Elmarie Biermann from the Cyber Security Institute and many others. 

The SADC HPC Collaboration Forum participated in discussions around the HPC framework and implementations plans for a regional HPC facility that would be used to find scientific solutions for common problems and other research in which member states could collaborate. 

Parallel to the intricate workshops, keynote talks and discussions was a platform for South African students to showcase their skills in building supercomputers and their innovative ideas on how to prevent cybercrimesthrough the Student Cluster Competition, and the Student Cyber-Security Challenge.

This year, following the theme of the conference on how HPC transforms for the future, increasing the participation of women in HPC was prominent. This was supported by the introduction of a sponsorship for an outstanding woman in the Student Cluster Challenge.

The award in this newly introduced category, sponsored by Intel, was taken by Ms Mapule Madzena, a student from the University of the Free State. She was hailed as the best female student and walked away with R64 500.

Student Cluster and Cyber Security Competitions

Six students from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS), who came out tops at a national student cluster competition to build a supercomputer, will fly the South African flag high at the International Student Cluster competition in Germany, in June next year.

During the competition, 10 teams of students from various universities in the country battled it out to build small high performance computing clusters on the exhibition floor – using hardware provided by CHPC and its industrial partners – and raced to demonstrate the best performance across a series of benchmarks and applications.

Sefan Schroder, Dilon Heald, Jehan Singh and Clara Staasen from UCT; Anita de Mello Koch and Kaamilah Desai from WITS, will test their skills against their international counterparts’ when they compete with students from 11 countries that including China, Germany, Poland, Singapore and Thailand, among others.

In the cybersecurity challenge, the University of Pretoria came first, followed by Stellenbosch University. This competition provides a platform for students to compete in real-time and come up with ideas that could protect South Africa from cybercrimes. The winning team will compete at an appropriate international competition, such as the European Cyber Security Challenge.

Speaking at the conference, DST Chief Director: Emerging Research Areas and Infrastructure, Dr Daniel Adams, said that the event was critical to develop the skills needed in the country.

“The DST remains committed to supporting skills development and new interventions. The CHPC is a great platform to stimulate the pipeline and boost human capital development. Initiatives such as these have led to slow, but steady, improvement in the enrolment of doctoral degrees,” he said.

CHPC Director, Dr Happy Sithole was impressed with the calibre of student who participated in the competitions. “I am very proud of the kind of innovation displayed by the students. I believe that they will represent us well at international stages.These competitions are critical to equip the future generation with cyberinfrastructure, supercomputing experience and expose science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation students to an array of opportunities”.

Over the years, South Africa has performed well at the International Student Cluster competition, wining it in 2013, 2014 and 2016, while coming second in 2015 and 2017. In June this year, the team came third, after two teams from China at the cluster challenge in Frankfurt, Germany.

Dr Sithole was also pleased with the progress made in building a strong high performance computing community in the country.

“This year, our focus was on the transformation of both the use and development of cyberinfrastructure, which will help the industries, academics and the nations from across the continent. Looking back at the first meeting where we engaged in the discussions of building a strong high performance computing community in South Africa, and advocating for financial support from government, significant growth has been achieved. Notably, it is now a continental focus, not only on computing, but overall cyberinfrastructure growth and demonstration of impact", he said.

Student Poster Competition

The conference also had 60 students showcasing their research posters for work conducted through the use of high performance computin. The poster students were judged mostly by external adjudicators under the following criteria: quality of the poster, the high performance computing content and quality of research, their ability to communicate the science content and the general impression of the presentation. The winner of the Masters-level poster was Beauty Shibiri from the University of Limpopo for the abstract title: Investigating the Structural and Volume Changes of Composite Layered-Spinel Nanoporous Li-Mn-O Electrode Materials. In the Doctoral-level, the award went to Elkana Rugut from WITS for the abstract title: Thermoelectric Properties of CdAl204 spinel.

Exhibition area

The expo zone of the conference consisted of industries who provided valuable support to the funding of the conference, companies like Intel (diamond sponsor), Altair and DellEMC (platinum sponsors) and Mellanox and Hewlett Packard (gold sponsors) ensured that the CHPC is able to bring leading speakers to add to the stature of the conference. 

Other sponsors included Student Cluster Competition sponsors: DELLEMC, Eclise Holdings, Altair, Bright Computing, Mellanox, Microsoft and Intel; as well as Student Cyber Security Challenge sponsors: Microsoft and MWR.

A glipmse at CHPC 2018

Please visit the gallery to see photos from the conference.

Student Cluster Competition video can be viewed here.

Student Cyber Security challenge video can be viewed here.

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 December 2018 11:01

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CHPC collaboration wins international Workforce Diversity Leadership Award

The CHPC has been announced as the winner of the prestigious Workforce Diversity Leadership Award at the 2018 Supercomputing Conference (SC) in Dallas, Texas.

Tom Tabor, CEO of Tabor Communications Inc., the publishers of HPCwire which is a leading publication for news and information for the high performance computing (HPC) industry unveiled the CHPC as winners of the 2018 HPCwire Readers’ Choice Awards SC in Dallas.

“This year is a milestone year as it marks the 30th anniversary of SC and the 15th anniversary of The HPCwire Readers’ and Editors’ Choice Awards. These awards serve as a pillar of recognition in our community, acknowledging major achievements, outstanding leadership and innovative breakthroughs,” said Tom Tabor. “Receiving an HPCwire Readers’ Choice Award signifies an undeniable amount of community support as well as continued success. We are proud to acknowledge our winners this year and as always to allow our readers voices to be heard. I would like to personally congratulate each and everyone of our winners, as their awards come well deserved”, he added.

CHPC won the award for leading the collaboration of organisations such as Texas Advanced Computing Center, Cambridge University, Dell, and the Department of Science and Technology (South Africa) who joined forces to repurpose and redeploy recently decommissioned high performance computing systems for training and research in Africa, “This means so much to us because it is recognition of our work by the international community and it gives us a great sense of pride that in a collaboration of coordinated international and local efforts from universities and industry, an impact can be made for Africa that is geared towards ensuring that the digital divide and skills gap are closed”, said Dr Sithole, Director: CHPC.

 

   

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 December 2018 13:39

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CHPC student graduates with a doctorate in Physics

Cliffton Masedi, a CSIR Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) student, has graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy: Physics from the University of Limpopo.

Now formally addressed as Dr Cliffton Masedi, his thesis is titled: Computational Modelling Studies of Discharge Products of Advanced Lithium-Sulphur Batteries and was supervised by Professor Phuti Ngoepe (University of Limpopo) and co-supervised by Dr Happy Sithole (Director: Centre for High Performance Computing).

Cliffton was one of two PhD students supported by the CHPC, with the second candidate currently pursuing his through the University of Cape Town. He is excited about his future prospects and expresses deep gratitude to the CSIR and CHPC: “My three-year studentship covered 100% of my university fees, included a stipend, travelling allowances to beneficial workshops which included one in Germany where I needed to learn how to use a new component of the Media-UNCLE code called Cluster Extension and which was critical to my research”.

“I love the field and as it not so developed in South Africa means I can still grow and develop broad use of high performance computing”, said Dr Masedi.

 

Dr Cliffton Masedi’sthesis citation

Lithium sulphur (Li/S) and Li air (Li/O) batteries have a potential to provide two to five times the energy density of the current Lithium-ion battery systems. However, Li/S suffers from low conductivity of sulphur and the solubility of intermediary polysulfide species during cycling. Mixed sulphur-selinium (SxSey) represents an attractive new class of cathode materials with promising electrochemical performance in reactions with both lithium and sodium ions. Notably, unlike existing Li/S batteries that only operate at high temperature, these new Se and Li/SexSy electrodes are capable of room temperature cycling. Cliffton’s major contribution is employment of cluster expansion and Monte Carlo techniques to investigate phase separating behaviour of Li2S1-x-Sex.

 

His study predicted a phase diagram of such system and proposed a phase change at a relatively low temperature of 350K for Li2S0.5Se0.5. In the absence of associated experimental details on Li/SexSy systems, he invoked an unrelated simulation approach, classical molecular dynamics, for which he developed new models, to validate his results. The work provides valuable insights on where phase separation and mixed phases tend to occur in Li2S1-x-Sex systems, over an entire range of sulphur and selenium contents, which will guide designs of future experiments.

Clifftonhas presented 27 papers at local and international conferences and was awarded prizes for best PhD presentations at local conferences. He has published a paper on the work and two more papers have been prepared for publication.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 October 2018 10:34

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