Virga – One of the Most Powerful AI Supercomputers in the World

image provided by Pixabay

This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)

Australia develops the high-performance computer (HPC) system “Virga”, rated 72nd out of the top 500 machines worldwide.

This system (the first of its kind in Australia) is constructed on Dell PowerEdge XE9640 servers and built by Australia’s national research agency CSIRO to provide the necessary computing infrastructure to boost the country’s industry and economy using AI and machine learning.

Executive Director of Digital, National Facilities and Collections at CSIRO Elanor Huntington said recently in a statement: “High-performance computing systems like Virga also play an important role in our robotics and sensing work and are crucial to the recently launched National Robotics Strategy to drive competitiveness and productivity of Australian industry.”

According to Interesting Engineering, the home to the HPC cluster Virga is the Canberra Data Centre (CDC). The cluster is equipped with NVIDIA H100 Tensor Core GPUs that are designed to enhance deep learning, machine learning, and AI applications, each boasting 94GB of high-bandwidth memory. The cluster also has a Transformer Engine that significantly accelerates AI performance and capabilities, enabling the training of large models within days or even hours.

Furthermore, in order to optimize cooling efficiency and reduce energy consumption, the Virga cluster uses hybrid direct liquid cooling that minimizes the reliance on energy-intensive air-cooling systems. CSIRO claims that this combination of advanced hardware and cooling technology positions the Virga computing cluster as a powerful and efficient solution for cutting-edge AI and machine learning workloads.

The H100’s combined technology innovations can reportedly make large language models 30 times faster than the previous generation. Chief Technology Officer at CSIRO, Angus Macoustra, said that the installation of Virga has not only modernized their IT infrastructure but also “keeps us at the forefront of accelerated computing and Australian innovation, which will deliver significant benefits to our researchers.”