AMD Donates ‘Neowise’ Cluster to GENCI, Inria for COVID-19 Research – HPCwire

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, AMD has positioned itself as a strong ally to the COVID-19 research community, predominantly through its COVID-19 High Performance Computing Fund. Now, through that fund, AMD has made a substantial hardware donation to French organizations GENCI and Inria, which are now the proud owners of a new cluster aimed at accelerating COVID-19 research.

The Neowise cluster. Image courtesy of GENCI.

The cluster, called Neowise (presumably after the comet of the same name), consists of ten nodes, each with an AMD Epyc 7642 48-core CPU, eight AMD Radeon MI50 GPUs and 512GB of RAM, and all networked with 200Gb/s HDR InfiniBand. Penguin Computing, which partners with AMD on its COVID-19 HPC Fund, also contributed to the system.

The system, which arrived in May, is still in testing, but is already available to researchers who wish to use it to run jobs, according to Grid’5000 (a French computing testbed for experiment-driven research). “We would like to thank AMD for this donation and Genci for their successful collaboration in making this machine available in Grid’5000,” wrote the Grid’5000 team.

“Inria is delighted with the launch of this new calculator, which is accessible to the entire community,” said Jean-Frédéric Gerbeau, deputy director general for science at Inria. “It is a new step in the fight against COVID-19, a fight for which we have been mobilizing our expertise for over a year.”

Neowise will be operated by GENCI, which coordinates French HPC resources, and Inria, France’s national research institute for digital science and technology, which were jointly selected in 2020 to receive a donation from AMD’s COVID-19 HPC Fund. The operators say that a range of projects will benefit from the donation, spanning from the optimization of data analysis tools for lung imaging to simulations of viral transmission in local populations. (To learn about the projects in more detail, click here.)

The institutions consider this work of paramount importance, even as much of the world reopens. “In the wake of the French government’s decision to progressively reduce restrictive sanitary measures, it is important to continue the scientific momentum in the fight against COVID-19,” they wrote in their press release.

“Research against COVID-19 must continue to reach the moment for a return to normal life,” said Gerbeau, Philippe Lavocat (GENCI’s CEO) and Mario Silveira (vice president, EMEA, and general manager at AMD) in a joint statement. “The work undertaken using the AMD-powered servers is emblematic of this ambition.”

AMD’s COVID-19 HPC Fund, for its part, was announced in April 2020 in partnership with Penguin Computing. Since then, the fund has grown to $20 million in investment and allocated 12 petaflops of computing power to 23 grantees across seven countries – at least, as of the most recent update from AMD in April 2021. Recipients have included other national supercomputing organizations, like the High-Performance Computing Center Stuttgart (HLRS), which — similarly to GENCI and Inria — received a ten-node cluster from the fund this spring. To learn more about that donation, click here.

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