ASEAN High Performance Computing Shared Infrastructure Initiative Aided by Regional High Speed Connectivity
ASEAN High Performance Computing Taskforce during its study trip to Japan in April 2019 (Photo credit: A*CRC)
22 Dec 2020 – Against the backdrop of increasing digitalisation and technological advancements, the ASEAN High Performance Computing (HPC) initiative aims to strengthen availability and access to shared HPC resources for the research and education community within ASEAN. This is achieved through increasing shared access to HPC resources and expertise, leveraging high speed network connectivity among regional partners, and fostering public-private partnerships in sectors of mutual interest, and capacity building to equip Southeast Asia’s workforce with HPC skills. Singapore and Thailand co-lead this initiative through Singapore’s Agency for Science, Research and Technology’s Computational Resource Centre (A*CRC), and Thailand’s National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (NECTEC).
The ASEAN HPC Taskforce creates opportunities for growth of technological capabilities in ASEAN, by providing access to top-tier HPC resources and expertise through a common platform for research and data sharing. This helps to deepen ASEAN’s HPC capabilities supported by digital connectivity and enhance ASEAN’s ability to harness HPC resources, both for the pursuit of science and for public-private partnership as well as industry collaboration. Industry experts in the area of HPC are appointed to be key opinion leaders (KOLs) to represent every ASEAN member state.
During the 4th ASEAN HPC Taskforce Meeting, KOLs acknowledged and supported the proposed ASEAN HPC shared facility, whereby ASEAN countries would use Singapore as the coordinating node. Under this proposal, A*CRC would leverage the regional network that includes two 100 Gbps links to Japan, and to all ASEAN countries with at least 1Gbps links to Singapore. This regional connectivity is supported by SingAREN (Singapore Advanced Research and Education Network) and multiple partners, including NICT (National Institute for Information and Communications, Japan) and TEIN (Trans-Eurasia Information Network).
Diagram 1: The current infrastructure setup between A*CRC and RIKEN-CCS is supported by a 100 SG-JP SingAREN-NICT link. (Diagram credit: A*CRC)
Tay Kheng Tiong, Chief Executive Officer, A*CRC, said, “It is great that Singapore has been selected unanimously to host the infrastructure of the shared facilities should it come to fruition in the near future. This is a recognition of Singapore’s growing strength in IT, DC and supercomputing technologies in the region. The demand in ASEAN for HPC/HTC capacities and capabilities continues to outpace supply across all industries and verticals. Hence, the collaboration with Fugaku on the shared facilities for the ASEAN member states as well as encouraging outlook for a central shared facility in Singapore, opens up tremendous opportunities for research collaborations in a number of fields of interest to different ASEAN member states. This will help to enhance closer working relationships amongst scientists and researchers in ASEAN.”
This ASEAN HPC initiative would strengthen strategic collaboration among academia, research institutions, networks of Centres of Excellence, and the private sector to create an effective ecosystem for capability development, technology transfer and commercialisation. It enhances mobility of scientists and researchers, people-to-people connectivity and strengthens engagement of women and youth in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI). This would help to establish an innovative system with smart partnership in nurturing STI enterprises to support Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, for knowledge creation and STI applications to raise competitiveness. Thus, it raises public awareness and strengthens STI enculturation to enhance ASEAN science and technology cooperation.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing for a Proof-of-Concept infrastructure between A*CRC and RIKEN Centre for Computational Science (R-CCS) for HPC resource sharing leads to collaboration on distributed filesystems and A*CRC staff experimentation with Fugaku Cloud Testbed at R-CCS. Under this MOU, researchers can embark on a proof-of-concept (POC) infrastructure encompassing compute, storage and network resources between both facilities. This would lead to a distributed shared compute and storage resources for end-users, including a shared filesystem (Gfarm filesystem), a common development environment and toolset and availability of compute resources at both sites for development and testing. ASEAN member states users can leverage on the established high-speed ASEAN network infrastructure to participate in the Gfarm testbeds.
With the COVID-19 situation making international travel in 2021 unlikely, the plan is to set up the ASEAN-EU HPC Virtual school in Spring 2021, with postponement of the in-presence school. The target audience would include graduate students with interest in HPC system, HPC or AI application programming and young PhDs and engineers. 10 slots per ASEAN country would be made available tentatively through the selection committee comprising various ASEAN member states.