Morocco’s private higher-education institution located in the small city of Ben Guerir, Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P), has officially launched its new datacentre that hosts Africa’s most powerful supercomputer.
The new entity at UM6P will provide high performance computing (HPC) to boost research on the African continent.
Named Toubkal, the device is powered by Dell Poweredge C6420 server blades running 2.2GHz Intel Xeon Platinum 82761 CPUs, with networking supported by Mellanox Infiniband HDR100 fiber networking.
The system was brought online last year, but had yet to fully launch. At the time, the supercomputer was ranked as the world’s 98th fastest system, according to Top500.
The name given to the supercomputer, Toukbal, derives from the highest peak of Morocco’s Atlas mountain range.
Launched last Friday in partnership with the University of Cambridge and technology firms Dell and Intel, the ASCC aims to provide resources for vital research in Africa in topics such as Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics, Genomics, Food Security, Agriculture and Mining.
As Africa’s premier supercomputer, the ASCC has amazing capacities. The supercomputer contains over 69000 CPU cores, over 8000 terabytes of storage, and more than 1300 servers for its networking capabilities.
It has “a clear and well-developed vision to create a world class Supercomputing Centre with the largest HPC system in Africa, acting as a technological beacon, demonstrating global research leadership,” UM6P announced in a press release.
The new supercomputer hopes to “solve African research problems in both academia and industry and create the next generation of computational scientists and digital entrepreneurs.”
In particular, inaugural projects include modeling the genome of protected African plants, the microbiome genome of micro-organisms on the surface and inside soils, satellite data to help improve agricultural land management across Africa, and meteorological data to help improve the provision of renewable energy across the continent.
At the launch, Hicham El Habti, president of the University, placed a number of lofty ambitions on the ASCC. “Beyond the scientific objective, our will is above all to bring answers to industries, populations and territories. Big Data is an invaluable source of information that will help us understand how we can meet the challenges of an increasingly digital world,” he said.
Over the past decades high performance computing has become an essential tool for scientists. “Today, to out-compute is to out-compete,” explained the European Technology Platform for High Performance Computing.
The new datacenter at Mohammed VI Polytechnic University is now set to accelerate research at the university and provide a new valuable research tool for scientists in Morocco and across Africa. According to UM6P, the new platform will start “building research momentum and inspiring a generation of African students with HPC technology leadership.”
Besides its contribution to Africa, the supercomputer will also “help guarantee the digital sovereignty of the Kingdom and to develop new 100% Moroccan digital services,” noted UM6P.