The MareNostrum Universe

By Nicole Hemsoth

December 15, 2006

According to the Bible, the universe was created in about a week. Astrophysicists are currently building a virtual universe that will be completed in about four months, using 2048 processors of the MareNostrum supercomputer. Hosted by the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, this 10,240-processor IBM machine is able to perform more than 94 trillion operations per second. This unique facility, the largest in Europe and ironically located inside an old chapel, is the perfect place to compute the formation and evolution of a virtual replica of our own universe.

The latest generation of astronomical instruments has allowed astronomers to have a clear view of the universe at its infancy, based on the so-called “cosmic microwave background,” as well as a very detailed knowledge of the universe at present, in its fully adult, grown-up age. In order to fill the gap in between, and to prepare for the next generation of astronomical instruments, astrophysicists from all over Europe have gathered in Barcelona to run a single application that can compute the evolution of large scale structures in the universe.

Projected gas and dark matter densities in the simulated volume. Small scale, high-density clumps, in which galaxies form, are interconnected by large scale, low-density filaments. Source: http://www.projet-horizon.fr/.The MareNostrum galaxy formation project is a multidisciplinary collaboration between astrophysicists of France, Germany, Spain, Israel and USA, together with computer experts from IDRIS (Institut du Développement et des Ressources en Informatique Scientifique) and BSC (Barcelona Supercomputing Center). The application solves a very complex set of mathematical equations by translating them into sophisticated computational algorithms. These algorithms are based on state-of-the-art adaptive mesh refinement techniques and advanced programming technologies in order to optimize the timely execution of the same application on several thousands of processors in parallel.

The simulation is now computing the evolution of a patch of our universe — a cubic box of 150 millions light years on a side — with unprecedented accuracy. It requires roughly 10 billion computational elements to describe the different kinds of matter that are believed to compose each individual galaxy of our universe: dark matter, gas and stars. This requires the combined power of 2048 PowerPC 970 MP processors and up to 3.2 TB of RAM memory. Contrary to other large computational problems in which information can be split into independent tasks, and because of the non-local nature of the physical processes we are dealing with, all 2048 processors have to exchange large amounts of data very frequently. To support this type of processing, the application takes advantage of the high bandwidth and low latency Myrinet interconnect installed on the MareNostrum computer. A personal computer, provided it had enough memory to store all the data, would need around 114 years to do the same task.

In about four months, using almost one million CPU hours, several billions years of the history of the universe will be simulated. The simulation makes intensive use of the I/O sub-system. To allow such a huge simulation to run smoothly during weeks of computation and to get an optimal performance of the system, application tuning was required: the simulation package provides a restart mechanism that allowed for recovery and resumption of the computation. In this way, the application is able to deal with hardware failures without having to restart from the beginning. This mechanism requires around 30 TB of data to be written to save the application state. In order to minimize the Global File System contention, an optimized directory structure has been proposed, supporting a sustained “parallel write” performance of 1.6 Gbps. Other design aspects were taken into account in order to improve a massive “parallel read and broadcast” over the Myrinet network, in order to read and dispatch the initial condition data over all the processors.

As in computer-simulated movies, a large number of snapshots are stored in sequence in order to provide realistic animation. The total amount of scientific data generated will exceed 40 TB. This unique database will constitute a virtual universe that astrophysicists will explore in order to create mock observations and to shed light in the many different processes that gave birth to the galaxies, and in particular, our own Milky Way galaxy.

The first week of computation was performed last September, during which 34 snapshots were generated, producing more than 3 TB of data. During the entire week only two hours were lost because of a hardware failure. This was due to failure of a single compute node — out of the 2100 processors reserved for the run.

The MareNostrum virtual universe was evolved up to the age of 1.5 billion years. Astrophysicists believe that this is precisely the era of the formation for the first Milky Way-like galaxies. Researchers have detected roughly 50 such large objects, with more than 100,000 additional galaxies of smaller size in the simulated universe. They are currently analyzing their physical properties in the virtual catalogue, as well as preparing for the next rounds of computations that will be needed in order to complete the history of the virtual universe.

One of the most important issues of numerical modelling of complex physical phenomena is the accuracy of the results. Unfortunately, the researchers cannot compare the results from the numerical simulations with laboratory experiments, like in other areas of computational fluid dynamics. Instead, the reliability of the simulations can be assessed by comparing results from different numerical codes starting from the same initial conditions. In this regard, the researchers are also simulating the MareNostrum Universe with a totally different numerical approach, using more than two billion particles to represent the different fluid components. This simulation is part of a long-term project named The MareNostrum Numerical Cosmology Project (MNCP). Its aim is to use the capabilities of MareNostrum supercomputer to perform simulations of the universe with unprecedented resolution.

—–

Source: Barcelona Supercomputing Center, http://www.bsc.es/

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

PRACEdays Reflects Europe’s HPC Commitment

May 25, 2017

More than 250 attendees and participants came together for PRACEdays17 in Barcelona last week, part of the European HPC Summit Week 2017, held May 15-19 at t Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Russian Researchers Claim First Quantum-Safe Blockchain

May 25, 2017

The Russian Quantum Center today announced it has overcome the threat of quantum cryptography by creating the first quantum-safe blockchain, securing cryptocurr Read more…

By Doug Black

Google Debuts TPU v2 and will Add to Google Cloud

May 25, 2017

Not long after stirring attention in the deep learning/AI community by revealing the details of its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), Google last week announced the Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia CEO Predicts AI ‘Cambrian Explosion’

May 25, 2017

The processing power and cloud access to developer tools used to train machine-learning models are making artificial intelligence ubiquitous across computing pl Read more…

By George Leopold

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Exploring the Three Models of Remote Visualization

The explosion of data and advancement of digital technologies are dramatically changing the way many companies do business. With the help of high performance computing (HPC) solutions and data analytics platforms, manufacturers are developing products faster, healthcare providers are improving patient care, and energy companies are improving planning, exploration, and production. Read more…

PGAS Use will Rise on New H/W Trends, Says Reinders

May 25, 2017

If you have not already tried using PGAS, it is time to consider adding PGAS to the programming techniques you know. Partitioned Global Array Space, commonly kn Read more…

By James Reinders

Exascale Escapes 2018 Budget Axe; Rest of Science Suffers

May 23, 2017

President Trump's proposed $4.1 trillion FY 2018 budget is good for U.S. exascale computing development, but grim for the rest of science and technology spend Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Hedge Funds (with Supercomputing help) Rank First Among Investors

May 22, 2017

In case you didn’t know, The Quants Run Wall Street Now, or so says a headline in today’s Wall Street Journal. Quant-run hedge funds now control the largest Read more…

By John Russell

IBM, D-Wave Report Quantum Computing Advances

May 18, 2017

IBM said this week it has built and tested a pair of quantum computing processors, including a prototype of a commercial version. That progress follows an an Read more…

By George Leopold

PRACEdays Reflects Europe’s HPC Commitment

May 25, 2017

More than 250 attendees and participants came together for PRACEdays17 in Barcelona last week, part of the European HPC Summit Week 2017, held May 15-19 at t Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

PGAS Use will Rise on New H/W Trends, Says Reinders

May 25, 2017

If you have not already tried using PGAS, it is time to consider adding PGAS to the programming techniques you know. Partitioned Global Array Space, commonly kn Read more…

By James Reinders

Exascale Escapes 2018 Budget Axe; Rest of Science Suffers

May 23, 2017

President Trump's proposed $4.1 trillion FY 2018 budget is good for U.S. exascale computing development, but grim for the rest of science and technology spend Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray Offers Supercomputing as a Service, Targets Biotechs First

May 16, 2017

Leading supercomputer vendor Cray and datacenter/cloud provider the Markley Group today announced plans to jointly deliver supercomputing as a service. The init Read more…

By John Russell

HPE’s Memory-centric The Machine Coming into View, Opens ARMs to 3rd-party Developers

May 16, 2017

Announced three years ago, HPE’s The Machine is said to be the largest R&D program in the venerable company’s history, one that could be progressing tow Read more…

By Doug Black

What’s Up with Hyperion as It Transitions From IDC?

May 15, 2017

If you’re wondering what’s happening with Hyperion Research – formerly the IDC HPC group – apparently you are not alone, says Steve Conway, now senior V Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Launches Servers, Services, and Collaboration at GTC

May 10, 2017

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today launched a new liquid cooled GPU-driven Apollo platform based on SGI ICE architecture, a new collaboration with NVIDIA, a Read more…

By John Russell

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Just how close real-wo Read more…

By John Russell

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the cam Read more…

By John Russell

Google Pulls Back the Covers on Its First Machine Learning Chip

April 6, 2017

This week Google released a report detailing the design and performance characteristics of the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), its custom ASIC for the inference Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

Since our first formal product releases of OSPRay and OpenSWR libraries in 2016, CPU-based Software Defined Visualization (SDVis) has achieved wide-spread adopt Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Last week, Google reported that its custom ASIC Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) was 15-30x faster for inferencing workloads than Nvidia's K80 GPU (see our coverage Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

TSUBAME3.0 Points to Future HPE Pascal-NVLink-OPA Server

February 17, 2017

Since our initial coverage of the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer yesterday, more details have come to light on this innovative project. Of particular interest is a ne Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Facebook Open Sources Caffe2; Nvidia, Intel Rush to Optimize

April 18, 2017

From its F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif., today, Facebook announced Caffe2, a new open-source, cross-platform framework for deep learning. Caffe2 is Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tokyo Tech’s TSUBAME3.0 Will Be First HPE-SGI Super

February 16, 2017

In a press event Friday afternoon local time in Japan, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) announced its plans for the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer, which w Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Is Liquid Cooling Ready to Go Mainstream?

February 13, 2017

Lost in the frenzy of SC16 was a substantial rise in the number of vendors showing server oriented liquid cooling technologies. Three decades ago liquid cooling Read more…

By Steve Campbell

MIT Mathematician Spins Up 220,000-Core Google Compute Cluster

April 21, 2017

On Thursday, Google announced that MIT math professor and computational number theorist Andrew V. Sutherland had set a record for the largest Google Compute Eng Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Supercomputing Leaders Tackle the China Question

March 15, 2017

As China continues to prove its supercomputing mettle via the Top500 list and the forward march of its ambitious plans to stand up an exascale machine by 2020, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Technique Propels Deep Learning at Scale

February 21, 2017

Researchers from Baidu's Silicon Valley AI Lab (SVAIL) have adapted a well-known HPC communication technique to boost the speed and scale of their neural networ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Wants to be “Red Hat” of Deep Learning

January 26, 2017

IBM today announced the addition of TensorFlow and Chainer deep learning frameworks to its PowerAI suite of deep learning tools, which already includes popular Read more…

By John Russell

DOE Supercomputer Achieves Record 45-Qubit Quantum Simulation

April 13, 2017

In order to simulate larger and larger quantum systems and usher in an age of "quantum supremacy," researchers are stretching the limits of today's most advance Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This