Lawrence Livermore Prepares for 20 Petaflop Blue Gene/Q

By Michael Feldman

February 3, 2009

Roadrunner and Jaguar, the DOE supercomputers that launched the petaflop era last year, will soon be eclipsed by new machines more than ten times as powerful. IBM and the US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced on Tuesday that in 2011 Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will install a 20 petaflop system to provide computational support for the country’s aging nuclear weapons.

Building on its Blue Gene heritage, IBM will deliver “Dawn,” a 500 teraflop Blue Gene/P system in the first quarter of this year, followed by “Sequoia,” a 20 petaflop next-generation Blue Gene/Q machine for 2011. Sequoia is expected to officially go online in 2012. The new machines will take over Lawrence Livermore’s weapon simulation codes that are being maintained under the Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) Program. Currently this work is being done with the existing capability supercomputers at the lab: the 100 teraflop ASC Purple and the 600 teraflop Blue Gene/L.

Dawn will act as an interim platform for porting and scaling the weapons codes. Once the Blue Gene/Q super comes online, those codes will be moved over to the bigger machine for production. The Dawn machine is in the process of being built right now, with about half of the machine already wired together at Lawrence Livermore. The lab is planning on getting the rest of the hardware over the next few months, with system acceptance scheduled for April.

Using Dawn as a stepping stone to Sequoia is possible since, unlike Blue Gene/L, both Blue Gene/P and Blue Gene/Q support node-level cache coherency, which allows for SMP-style programming. Especially for the weapons code, mapping one MPI task per core would be a real challenge, but going to a mixed SMP-message passing model — shared-memory parallelism within the nodes and distributed parallelism across the nodes — is much more practical.

Not only will Sequoia be more than ten times as powerful as the current crop of petaflop supercomputers, its energy efficiency will be much improved. According to IBM Deep Computing VP Dave Turek, Sequoia will consume around 6 megawatts, yielding an energy efficiency ratio of over 3,000 MFLOPS/watt*. That represents a 7X improvement over the Blue Gene/P generation (440 MFLOPS/watt*), and is even better than the Cell-based Roadrunner system at Los Alamos (587 MFLOPS/watt*). For a starker comparison, the 1.6 petaflop Opteron-based Jaguar supercomputer installed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory uses about 8.5 megawatts (188 MFLOPS/watt*).

When Sequoia arrives in the first half of 2011, space is going to be at a premium in the lab’s Terascale Simulation Facility, (which already houses ASC Purple and the Blue Gene/L system) but power is going to be the real problem. Although both new Blue Genes are much more energy efficient than their predecessors, the lab is planning to more than double the facility’s power — from 12.5 to 30 megawatts.

IBM is not releasing low-level details of the Blue Gene/Q architecture. However, since Sequoia will be composed of 98,304 compute nodes and contain a total of 1.6 million cores, one can surmise that a Blue Gene/Q node will contain 16 cores. Whether this is implemented as one 16-core chip or two 8-core chips (or even four quad-core chips) remains to be seen. Since Sequoia will sport 1.6 petabytes of memory, each node stands to have 16 GB. The current Blue Gene/P technology offers 4 cores and 4 GB of main memory per node.

At 20 petaflops, Sequoia will be 160 times as powerful as Lawrence Livermore’s ASC Purple and 17 times as powerful as its current Blue Gene/L, giving scientists a lot more computing cycles for weapons simulations and basic science research. “It’s been an interesting journey,” notes Turek. “When you think back to when the ASCI [now ASC] program was launched in the 90s and what the aspirations were for FLOPs back then versus where we are today, I think we’ve exceeded everyone’s expectations.”

Indeed. Considering the original supercomputers under the ASC program (i.e., ASCI Blue Pacific at 3.9 teraflops and ASCI White at 12.3 teraflops) don’t even show up on today’s TOP500 list, the new systems represent a completely different class of capability for the stockpile stewardship program. Mark Seager, who manages the Platforms Program for the ASC Program at Lawrence Livermore and led the team that wrote the RFP for the new machines, says Sequoia will enable a new level of predictive science.

Toward that end, the lab will be enhancing the existing weapons codes with “uncertainty quantification” (UQ) methods. Seager says this is a relatively new branch of science that allows researchers to apply a lot of physics parameters to the simulations. With this model, researchers will be able to quantify the errors associated with simulation results. Once the largest sources of errors are known, the models can be systematically refined to enhance the predictive capabilities. Unfortunately, UQ is computationally expensive, so only limited numbers of simulations can be attempted on existing hardware.

“On [ASC] Purple we were able to do a UQ study on one weapons system in about a month with approximately 4,400 calculations, some of which took up the maximum practical size of the machine, which is 8,192 MPI tasks,” explains Seager. “With Sequoia, multiply that capability by somewhere between 12 and 24X.”

But MPI applications tend to be very sensitive to hardware or software failures, so completing a fault-free run is going to be challenging at the scale of a million-plus cores. To address the resiliency issue, Seager says they’ll be applying “ensemble” calculations to their codes. In the ensemble method, the same algorithm can be run thousands of time with different sets of parameters. Using this approach, isolated failures on a small number of calculations can be tolerated without sacrificing the integrity of the whole application. It’s analogous to the way many Web applications like search engines operate today.

Sequoia’s second mission will be to support basic science at scale, where scientists are looking to achieve 20 to 50 times the capability that is provided by the existing Blue Gene/L system. Along with the extra capability Sequoia will provide the weapons codes migrating from ASC Purple, Lawrence Livermore stands to leapfrog rather decisively into the petascale era. Says Seager: “It is probably the single largest jump in computing power that the lab has ever seen.”

*The original version of this article incorrectly expressed the energy efficiency ratios at FLOPS/watt, instead of MFLOPS/watt.

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!

HPE Announces New HPC Factory in Czech Republic

May 18, 2022

A week ahead of ISC High Performance 2022 (set to be held in Hamburg, Germany), supercomputing heavyweight HPE has announced a major investment in sovereign European computing: its first European factory, housed in the C Read more…

Hyperion Study Tracks Rise and Impact of Linux Supercomputers

May 17, 2022

That supercomputers produce impactful, lasting value is a basic tenet among the HPC community. To make the point more formally, Hyperion Research has issued a new report, The Economic and Societal Benefits of Linux Super Read more…

ECP Director Doug Kothe Named ORNL Associate Laboratory Director

May 16, 2022

The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has selected Doug Kothe to be the next Associate Laboratory Director for its Computing and Computational Sciences Directorate (CCSD), HPCwire has learned. K Read more…

Google Cloud’s New TPU v4 ML Hub Packs 9 Exaflops of AI

May 16, 2022

Almost exactly a year ago, Google launched its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) v4 chips at Google I/O 2021, promising twice the performance compared to the TPU v3. At the time, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that Google’s datacenters would “soon have dozens of TPU v4 Pods, many of which will be... Read more…

Q&A with Candace Culhane, SC22 General Chair and an HPCwire Person to Watch in 2022

May 14, 2022

HPCwire is pleased to present our interview with SC22 General Chair Candace Culhane, program/project director at Los Alamos National Lab and an HPCwire 2022 Person to Watch. In this exclusive Q&A, Culhane covers her Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

shutterstock 1103121086

Encoding workflow dependencies in AWS Batch

Most users of HPC or Batch systems need to analyze data with multiple operations to get meaningful results. That’s really driven by the nature of scientific research or engineering processes – it’s rare that a single task generates the insight you need. Read more…

Argonne Supercomputer Advances Energy Storage Research

May 13, 2022

The lack of large-scale energy storage bottlenecks many sources of renewable energy, such as sunlight-reliant solar power and unpredictable wind power. Researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) are w Read more…

HPE Announces New HPC Factory in Czech Republic

May 18, 2022

A week ahead of ISC High Performance 2022 (set to be held in Hamburg, Germany), supercomputing heavyweight HPE has announced a major investment in sovereign Eur Read more…

Google Cloud’s New TPU v4 ML Hub Packs 9 Exaflops of AI

May 16, 2022

Almost exactly a year ago, Google launched its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) v4 chips at Google I/O 2021, promising twice the performance compared to the TPU v3. At the time, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that Google’s datacenters would “soon have dozens of TPU v4 Pods, many of which will be... Read more…

Q&A with Candace Culhane, SC22 General Chair and an HPCwire Person to Watch in 2022

May 14, 2022

HPCwire is pleased to present our interview with SC22 General Chair Candace Culhane, program/project director at Los Alamos National Lab and an HPCwire 2022 Per Read more…

Supercomputing an Image of Our Galaxy’s Supermassive Black Hole

May 13, 2022

A supermassive black hole called Sagittarius A* (yes, the asterisk is part of it!) sits at the center of the Milky Way. Now, for the first time, we can see it. Read more…

Royalty-free stock illustration ID: 1919750255

Intel Says UCIe to Outpace PCIe in Speed Race

May 11, 2022

Intel has shared more details on a new interconnect that is the foundation of the company’s long-term plan for x86, Arm and RISC-V architectures to co-exist in a single chip package. The semiconductor company is taking a modular approach to chip design with the option for customers to cram computing blocks such as CPUs, GPUs and AI accelerators inside a single chip package. Read more…

Intel Extends IPU Roadmap Through 2026

May 10, 2022

Intel is extending its roadmap for infrastructure processors through 2026, the company said at its Vision conference being held in Grapevine, Texas. The company's IPUs (infrastructure processing units) are megachips that are designed to improve datacenter efficiency by offloading functions such as networking control, storage management and security that were traditionally... Read more…

Exascale Watch: Aurora Installation Underway, Now Open for Reservations

May 10, 2022

Installation has begun on the Aurora supercomputer, Rick Stevens (associate director of Argonne National Laboratory) revealed today during the Intel Vision event keynote taking place in Dallas, Texas, and online. Joining Intel exec Raja Koduri on stage, Stevens confirmed that the Aurora build is underway – a major development for a system that is projected to deliver more... Read more…

Intel’s Habana Labs Unveils Gaudi2, Greco AI Processors

May 10, 2022

At the hybrid Intel Vision event today, Intel’s Habana Labs team launched two major new products: Gaudi2, the second generation of the Gaudi deep learning training processor; and Greco, the successor to the Goya deep learning inference processor. Intel says that the processors offer significant speedups relative to their predecessors and the... Read more…

Nvidia R&D Chief on How AI is Improving Chip Design

April 18, 2022

Getting a glimpse into Nvidia’s R&D has become a regular feature of the spring GTC conference with Bill Dally, chief scientist and senior vice president of research, providing an overview of Nvidia’s R&D organization and a few details on current priorities. This year, Dally focused mostly on AI tools that Nvidia is both developing and using in-house to improve... Read more…

Royalty-free stock illustration ID: 1919750255

Intel Says UCIe to Outpace PCIe in Speed Race

May 11, 2022

Intel has shared more details on a new interconnect that is the foundation of the company’s long-term plan for x86, Arm and RISC-V architectures to co-exist in a single chip package. The semiconductor company is taking a modular approach to chip design with the option for customers to cram computing blocks such as CPUs, GPUs and AI accelerators inside a single chip package. Read more…

Facebook Parent Meta’s New AI Supercomputer Will Be ‘World’s Fastest’

January 24, 2022

Fresh off its rebrand last October, Meta (née Facebook) is putting muscle behind its vision of a metaversal future with a massive new AI supercomputer called the AI Research SuperCluster (RSC). Meta says that RSC will be used to help build new AI models, develop augmented reality tools, seamlessly analyze multimedia data and more. The supercomputer’s... Read more…

AMD/Xilinx Takes Aim at Nvidia with Improved VCK5000 Inferencing Card

March 8, 2022

AMD/Xilinx has released an improved version of its VCK5000 AI inferencing card along with a series of competitive benchmarks aimed directly at Nvidia’s GPU line. AMD says the new VCK5000 has 3x better performance than earlier versions and delivers 2x TCO over Nvidia T4. AMD also showed favorable benchmarks against several Nvidia GPUs, claiming its VCK5000 achieved... Read more…

In Partnership with IBM, Canada to Get Its First Universal Quantum Computer

February 3, 2022

IBM today announced it will deploy its first quantum computer in Canada, putting Canada on a short list of countries that will have access to an IBM Quantum Sys Read more…

Supercomputer Simulations Show How Paxlovid, Pfizer’s Covid Antiviral, Works

February 3, 2022

Just about a month ago, Pfizer scored its second huge win of the pandemic when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued another emergency use authorization Read more…

Nvidia Launches Hopper H100 GPU, New DGXs and Grace Superchips

March 22, 2022

The battle for datacenter dominance keeps getting hotter. Today, Nvidia kicked off its spring GTC event with new silicon, new software and a new supercomputer. Speaking from a virtual environment in the Nvidia Omniverse 3D collaboration and simulation platform, CEO Jensen Huang introduced the new Hopper GPU architecture and the H100 GPU... Read more…

PsiQuantum’s Path to 1 Million Qubits

April 21, 2022

PsiQuantum, founded in 2016 by four researchers with roots at Bristol University, Stanford University, and York University, is one of a few quantum computing startups that’s kept a moderately low PR profile. (That’s if you disregard the roughly $700 million in funding it has attracted.) The main reason is PsiQuantum has eschewed the clamorous public chase for... Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Nvidia Dominates MLPerf Inference, Qualcomm also Shines, Where’s Everybody Else?

April 6, 2022

MLCommons today released its latest MLPerf inferencing results, with another strong showing by Nvidia accelerators inside a diverse array of systems. Roughly fo Read more…

D-Wave to Go Public with SPAC Deal; Expects ~$1.6B Market Valuation

February 8, 2022

Quantum computing pioneer D-Wave today announced plans to go public via a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) mechanism. D-Wave will merge with DPCM Capital in a transaction expected to produce $340 million in cash and result in a roughly $1.6 billion initial market valuation. The deal is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2022 and the new company will be traded on the New York Stock... Read more…

Intel Announces Falcon Shores CPU-GPU Combo Architecture for 2024

February 18, 2022

Intel held its 2022 investor meeting yesterday, covering everything from the imminent Sapphire Rapids CPUs to the hotly anticipated (and delayed) Ponte Vecchio GPUs. But somewhat buried in its summary of the meeting was a new namedrop: “Falcon Shores,” described as “a new architecture that will bring x86 and Xe GPU together into a single socket.” The reveal was... Read more…

Industry Consortium Forms to Drive UCIe Chiplet Interconnect Standard

March 2, 2022

A new industry consortium aims to establish a die-to-die interconnect standard – Universal Chiplet Interconnect Express (UCIe) – in support of an open chipl Read more…

Julia Update: Adoption Keeps Climbing; Is It a Python Challenger?

January 13, 2021

The rapid adoption of Julia, the open source, high level programing language with roots at MIT, shows no sign of slowing according to data from Julialang.org. I Read more…

Nvidia Acquires Software-Defined Storage Provider Excelero

March 7, 2022

Nvidia has announced that it has acquired Excelero. The high-performance block storage provider, founded in 2014, will have its technology integrated into Nvidia’s enterprise software stack. Nvidia is not disclosing the value of the deal. Excelero’s core product, Excelero NVMesh, offers software-defined block storage via networked NVMe SSDs. NVMesh operates through... Read more…

India Launches Petascale ‘PARAM Ganga’ Supercomputer

March 8, 2022

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Indian government promised that it had five HPC systems in the final stages of installation and would launch nine new supercomputers this year. Now, it appears to be making good on that promise: the country’s National Supercomputing Mission (NSM) has announced the deployment of “PARAM Ganga” petascale supercomputer at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)... Read more…

Google Launches TPU v4 AI Chips

May 20, 2021

Google CEO Sundar Pichai spoke for only one minute and 42 seconds about the company’s latest TPU v4 Tensor Processing Units during his keynote at the Google I Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire