Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Director of the Centre for High Performance Computing visits Wits electronics lab

The Director of the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC), Dr Happy Sithole and the Wits Deputy Vice-Chancellor for research, Prof. Zeblon Vilakazi have visited today the High-throughput Electronics Lab (HTEL) at the School of Physics. Some of our group members currently abroad connected via CERN's vidyo.

Dr. Sithole has shown great interest in the research activities of the students and young researchers of our team. The CHPC is interested in collaborating in the area of high-throughput computing with ARM processors and GPUs. One of the challenges that High-performance computing displays is the ability to move the high volumes of data to performant processors with low latency. The HTEL is devising solutions to this problem based on local designs. The involvement of the HTEL in the upgrade activities of the Tile Calorimeter of the ATLAS detector is a critical driver for these activities.

The function started by introducing Dr. Sithole to the group members and with a presentation about the main activities of the HTEL: FGPA-based electronics, high-throughput general purpose electronics, GPGPUs, ATCA systems, development of low cost computers and electronics radiation, high-throughput data analysis.

Below is a group picture taken at the HTEL. First row, centre, one can see Dr. Sithole, the Head of the School of Physics, Prof. John Carter and Prof. Vilakazi. Missing in the picture are Dr. Deepak Kar, Pablo Moreno, Thokozani Khumalo, Dr. Xifeng Ruan, Dr. Luis March, Shell-may Liao, Guillermo Hamity, Kehinde Tomiwa, the technical support staff and last, but far from least, Prof. Elias Sideras-Haddad.

Prof. Vilakazi addresses the students, referring to the HTEL as a "success story":

The rest of us are happy to listen:

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Attended the "Big Switch On" event, the Boitumelong secondary school, the first school in School in South Africa going digital

Prof. Bea Lacquet, the Wits Deputy Vice Chancellor of Information, Knowledge and Infrastructure Management and me attended the "Big Switch On" event. The Boitumelong secondary school, in Tembisa, about 50 km north-east of Johannesburg:


has become the first public school in South Africa to go digital. This was a high-profile event organised by the Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Education of the Gauteng Province, Panyaza Lesufi and the Government of the Gauteng province. The Deputy President of South Africa, few Ministers and deputy Ministers, the  Premier of the Gauteng Government, city Majors and other personalities attended the event.

Managed to take a peak at some of the classes. One can see that each student is assigned a tablet and each class has digital boards. The school is connected to the backbone of Gauteng with a 1 Gb/s network, which is quite a bandwidth, taking into account the location of the school. This school, together with other 6 in the area will serve as models to roll over the implementation of connectivity and computers in the classroom. Gauteng has about 2100 state schools.

The tent was packed. Many enthusiastic students. Tons of fun, indeed.

MEC Lesufi opens the main event after plaque unveilings in different parts of the school and officials from central Government have taken their seats

There was even a bit of music

and some dancing

The Minister of Basic Education, Angelina Motshekga, addressing the audience and introducing the Deputy President of South Africa

The Deputy President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, addresses the audience.

Managed to grab the MEC's attention