Australia’s national advanced computing facility has been given a big upgrade.

The National Computational Infrastructure in Canberra has become the first Australian institution to deploy the latest generation of Intel ‘Xeon Phi’ processors, formerly code-named ‘Knights Landing’.

Thirty-two of Intel’s 14-nanometre Xeon Phi processors are now online and available to researchers at NCI, integrated in some extremely advanced systems to keep NCI at the leading edge of high performance computing in Australia.

It also represents a significant step towards exascale computation.

Intel Xeon Phi processors feature the second generation of Intel’s Many Integrated Core (MIC) architecture. Each processor features integrated on-package memory for higher memory bandwidth and include up to 72 cores based on the Intel x86 architecture.

Early benchmarks of the new processors are producing very promising results, with some codes seeing a twofold increase in computational performance when compared against NCI’s existing systems.

More than 4,000 Australian researchers from 31 universities, five science agencies, several medical research institutes and a number of industries rely on NCI for world-class high-performance computing, high-performance data and cloud computing services.

“NCI is one of the most influential institutions using advanced high-performance computing in Australia,” said Barry Davis, general manager, Accelerated Workloads Group at Intel.

“They are a critical part of delivering the latest computational infrastructure solutions to the Australian research community, so it was important to enable NCI with access to the powerful, highly parallel performance of the latest Intel Xeon Phi processors.”

The Services and Technologies team at NCI is now tuning applications to take advantage of the new processors.

“We have identified a large number of applications that will benefit from this hardware and software paradigm, including those applications in the domains of computational physics, computational chemistry and climate research,” said Dr Muhammad Atif, NCI’s HPC Systems and Cloud Services Manager.