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Africa's fastest computer ranked 121st in the world

Africa's fastest computer ranked 121st in the world.

Lengau (Setswana for cheetah), the supercomputer which was launched earlier this month in South Africa, has been ranked 121st in a list of the world's TOP500 supercomputers at the International Supercomputing Conference that took place in Frankfurt, Germany.

The petaflop machine positions South Africa among leading supercomputing nations like China which tops the list and the USA, Russia, India and Germany.

Naledi Pandor, South Africa's Minister of Science and Technology says the supercomputer's listing highlights the country's capability and strength in using science and technology to improve its competitiveness globally. This is because worldwide research, which leads to innovation and development, has become dependent on cyber infrastructure, she said.

"In this regard, Lengau will enable South Africa to meet the research challenges that demand a multi-faceted response which includes a spectrum of computational capacity; rapidly moving massive data sets; trusted data infrastructures; and policies which encourage international data stewardship standards," said the Minister.

Lengau was unveiled by Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

The machine is a supercomputer with a processing speed capable of a thousand trillion floating-point operations per second. Floating-point operations per second, or flops, are used in computing to calculate extremely large numbers. With over 24 000 cores, the petaflop machine is the fastest computer on the African continent and is 15 times faster than the previous system used by the Centre for High Performance Computing.

Dr Happy Sithole, Director of the CHPC emphasised the usefulness of Lengau following the announcement of its Top 500 listing. "This prestigious international accolade demonstrates that Africa's first petascale supercomputer is ready to accelerate applications that run on it, a boost for Africa's researchers and industrial competitiveness."

The machine has been earmarked for use for data-intense research programmes like the Square Kilometre Array (SKA); molecular modelling, and weather forecasting.

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