How Singapore’s A*Star CRC, Obsidian Strategics and Tata Communications are Redefining Supercomputing


As the supercomputing industry retools for new architectures to meet the ExaScale challenge of building a supercomputer that can deliver 1 million, million, million calculations per second, Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) Computational Research Centre has brought together Obsidian Strategics, Tata Communications and an expert team of optical network and technology partners to rewrite history on distributing computational work over globally dispersed sites.

The partners view this platform as a means to redefine the future of global supercomputer developments in architectures, algorithms, software and applications.

• Transmitting data across the Pacific –The team will demonstrate a “world’s first” transmission of data at a speed of 100 Gbits/s across the Pacific via subsea optical cables to the Supercomputing 2014 (SC14) conference. This demonstration will break records, as it will deliver data ten times faster than previously recorded transmission speeds between Asia and North America.

• Bringing together global partners – Singapore Advanced Research and Education Network (SingAREN) will provide the connectivity within Singapore while Tata Communications will contribute the transpacific capacity on its wholly-owned subsea cables TGN-IA, connecting Singapore to Japan. From there, the connectivity will continue on Tata Communications’ TGN-P across the Pacific to Seattle, where the connection will run to New Orleans using Century Link’s transcontinental fiber, where SCinet will terminate the circuit at the A*STAR booth.

• Benchmarking applications through the InfiniCortex initiative –To demonstrate the feasibility and lasting value of the platform, a team from A*STAR, led by Dr. Marek Michalewicz, will overlay an architecture called the InfiniCortex initiative. This initiative is aimed at developing and deploying coordination and scheduling algorithms capable of leveraging the global InfiniBand network to efficiently harness remote supercomputing equipment on single tasks. This initiative is a testimony to A*STAR and Singapore as leaders in High Performance Computing (HPC) and as a major hub for Asian research and education communications.

• Enhanced InfiniBand for global deployments – Obsidian Strategics will provide the Longbow devices that transparently interface supercomputer InfiniBand local area networks with encrypted links across standard WAN infrastructure, Crossbow devices that route traffic between InfiniBand subnets and BGFC, an enhanced subnet manager that coordinates the global InfiniBand fabric across multiple subnets.

Speaking on this development, Marek T. Michalewicz, senior director, A*STAR Computational Resource Centre, said, “It is obvious that there is a definitive need in our industry to design and implement the mathematical tools and related software that will allow supercomputers located in different geo-locations to connect. Through these high-capacity transmission connections, novel applications of long-distance InfiniBand and advances in the application of graph theory will help make the InfiniCortex a reality, regionally and globally.”

Dr. David Southwell, chief visionary officer, Obsidian, said, “Longbow and Crossbow devices collectively enable robust enhanced InfiniBand connectivity across a globally distributed array of high performance computer and storage resources, while delivering performance similar to that of local InfiniBand cabling. We couldn’t be more pleased to be an integral part of this unique approach to practical ExaScale computing.”

Talking about the importance of development, Genius Wong, SVP, global network services, Tata Communications, said, “The power of supercomputing is on the rise – from speeding up complex data analytics to bringing an accurate, simple weather forecast. We at Tata Communications are proud to be collaborating with A*Star CRC and Obsidian Strategics in advancing this technology and connecting supercomputers at multiple locations though our advanced and wholly-owned subsea cable network. By providing the 100 Gbits/s transport services to this project, we hope to advance such initiatives and help realize the power of supercomputing regionally and globally.”