DARPA Sets Ubiquitous HPC Program in Motion

By Michael Feldman

August 10, 2010

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected four “performers” to develop prototype systems for its Ubiquitous High Performance Computing (UHPC) program. According to a press release issued on August 6, the organizations include Intel, NVIDIA, MIT, and Sandia National Laboratory. Georgia Tech was also tapped to head up an evaluation team for the systems under development. The first UHPC prototype systems are slated to be completed in 2018.

The overarching goal of UHPC is, in the words of the program’s mission, “to reinvent computing.” Of course, nearly every DARPA computing program purports to do that, to one extent or another. So this is just business as usual for the DoD’s premier research agency.

DARPA has dubbed the intended architecture “ExtremeScale” supercomputing, and one of the principle goals of the program is to develop dense, energy-efficient petascale and exascale architectures. Specifically, UHPC systems will need to deliver a petaflop of High Performance Linpack (HPL) in a single cabinet and achieve an energy efficiency of at least 50 gigaflops/watt. By comparison, the most efficient supercomputers today, according to the Green500 list, are based on IBM’s Cell processor technology, and offer well under 1 gigaflop/watt. So these ExtremeScale machines will need to be on the order of 100 times more efficient than today’s supercomputers.

Oh, and the machines have to be easy to program. That is, the system design and accompanying software should make it possible for application developers to be freed from managing low-level hardware features or explicitly programming for data locality and concurrency. In fact, the programmer should even be able to implement parallelism without using MPI, or any other communication-based mechanism. In addition, the operating system for these machines has to be “self-aware,” such that it can dynamically manage performance, dependability and system resources.

Since this is under DARPA, the applications UHPC is concerned with are all DoD-type HPC workloads. These include processing massive amounts of streaming sensor data, handling large graph-based, informatics problems, and solving decision class problems. Two other types of target problems, drawn from other DoD applications, are to be selected later. Obviously, such systems will also be applicable to many HPC-type applications in research and industry.

The DARPA announcement last Friday (August 6) was rather brief, only specifying the five organizations that have been selected. As of this writing, only NVIDIA has come out with a public announcement acknowledging the DARPA win. It is unclear whether additional awardees will be named at a later date.

For its part, NVIDIA is teaming with Cray, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and six unnamed universities to design its ExtremeScale prototype. The NVIDIA-Cray-ORNL troika is a natural for this project. When the Fermi GPU was unveiled last September, Oak Ridge announced plans for a multi-petaflop supercomputer based on NVIDIA’s latest GPU. Although not explicitly stated, the ORNL machine will likely be a Cray system, given the DOE lab’s propensity to buy supercomputing gear from them. Of course, when the first ExtremeScale prototype system is produced, NVIDIA is presumably going to be a few generations beyond its Fermi-class GPUs, and by 2018 may even be offering some sort of integrated CPU-GPU processor, a la AMD’s Fusion architecture. NVIDIA’s CUDA software development environment will also have gone through several iterations of enhancements by then.

As the only other commercial firm awarded under UHPC, Intel has a few options to exercise as far as processor architecture is concerned. But with the recent revival of Larrabee, now known as the Many Integrated Core (MIC) processor, Intel will almost certainly be looking to this architecture to get the level of energy efficiency that the UHPC program demands. The chipmaker’s expertise with parallel programming development tools (Ct language, Threading Building Blocks, Parallel Studio, etc.) is also likely to help address the ease-of-programming aspect for these systems.

It’s noteworthy that the two companies awarded UHPC money were chip vendors with a good parallel software base. Contrast this with AMD (assuming they bid for the UHPC work), which has a decent performance/watt story with its CPU-GPU Fusion architecture, but no well-defined software infrastructure to back it up as yet. It’s even more interesting that NVIDIA is now garnering this kind of respect from the HPC research community. As recently as five years ago, no one would have though the GPU maker would be at the cutting-edge of supercomputing.

As one of the ExtremeScale system developers, NVIDIA will receive $25 million spread over the next four years (two 24-month research phases). That effort will produce a preliminary design. The two follow-on phases, when the actual prototypes are developed, will be initiated under a separate solicitation and may be awarded to different teams than were selected for the first two phases.

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!

Japan Meteorological Agency Takes Delivery of Pair of Crays

May 21, 2018

Cray has supplied two identical Cray XC50 supercomputers to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) in northwestern Tokyo. Boasting more than 18 petaflops combined peak computing capacity, the new systems will extend the a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ASC18: Final Results Revealed & Wrapped Up

May 17, 2018

It was an exciting week at ASC18 in Nanyang, China. The student teams braved extreme heat, extremely difficult applications, and extreme competition in order to cross the cluster competition finish line. The gala awards ceremony took place on Wednesday. The auditorium was packed with student teams, various dignitaries, the media, and other interested parties. So what happened? Read more…

By Dan Olds

ASC18: Tough Applications & Tough Luck

May 17, 2018

The applications at the ASC18 Student Cluster Competition were tough. Tougher than the $3.99 steak special at your local greasy spoon restaurant. The apps are so tough that even Chuck Norris backs away from them slowly. Read more…

By Dan Olds

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPC and AI Convergence is Accelerating New Levels of Intelligence

Data analytics is the most valuable tool in the digital marketplace – so much so that organizations are employing high performance computing (HPC) capabilities to rapidly collect, share, and analyze endless streams of data. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Mastering the Big Data Challenge in Cognitive Healthcare

Patrick Chain, genomics researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory, posed a question in a recent blog: What if a nurse could swipe a patient’s saliva and run a quick genetic test to determine if the patient’s sore throat was caused by a cold virus or a bacterial infection? Read more…

Spring Meetings Underscore Quantum Computing’s Rise

May 17, 2018

The month of April 2018 saw four very important and interesting meetings to discuss the state of quantum computing technologies, their potential impacts, and the technology challenges ahead. These discussions happened in Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Japan Meteorological Agency Takes Delivery of Pair of Crays

May 21, 2018

Cray has supplied two identical Cray XC50 supercomputers to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) in northwestern Tokyo. Boasting more than 18 petaflops combine Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ASC18: Final Results Revealed & Wrapped Up

May 17, 2018

It was an exciting week at ASC18 in Nanyang, China. The student teams braved extreme heat, extremely difficult applications, and extreme competition in order to cross the cluster competition finish line. The gala awards ceremony took place on Wednesday. The auditorium was packed with student teams, various dignitaries, the media, and other interested parties. So what happened? Read more…

By Dan Olds

Spring Meetings Underscore Quantum Computing’s Rise

May 17, 2018

The month of April 2018 saw four very important and interesting meetings to discuss the state of quantum computing technologies, their potential impacts, and th Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Quantum Network Hub Opens in Japan

May 17, 2018

Following on the launch of its Q Commercial quantum network last December with 12 industrial and academic partners, the official Japanese hub at Keio University is now open to facilitate the exploration of quantum applications important to science and business. The news comes a week after IBM announced that North Carolina State University was the first U.S. university to join its Q Network. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Democratizing HPC: OSC Releases Version 1.3 of OnDemand

May 16, 2018

Making HPC resources readily available and easier to use for scientists who may have less HPC expertise is an ongoing challenge. Open OnDemand is a project by t Read more…

By John Russell

PRACE 2017 Annual Report: Exascale Aspirations; Industry Collaboration; HPC Training

May 15, 2018

The Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) today released its annual report showcasing 2017 activities and providing a glimpse into thinking about Read more…

By John Russell

US Forms AI Brain Trust

May 11, 2018

Amid calls for a U.S. strategy for promoting AI development, the Trump administration is forming a senior-level panel to help coordinate government and industry research efforts. The Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence was announced Thursday (May 10) during a White House summit organized by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Read more…

By George Leopold

Emerging Advanced Scale Tech Trends Focus of Annual Tabor Conference

May 9, 2018

At Tabor Communications' annual Advanced Scale Forum (ASF) held this week in Austin, the focus was on enterprise adoption of HPC-class technologies and high performance data analytics (HPDA). It’s a confab that brings together end users (CIOs, IT planners, department heads) and vendors and encourages... Read more…

By the Editorial Team

MLPerf – Will New Machine Learning Benchmark Help Propel AI Forward?

May 2, 2018

Let the AI benchmarking wars begin. Today, a diverse group from academia and industry – Google, Baidu, Intel, AMD, Harvard, and Stanford among them – releas Read more…

By John Russell

How the Cloud Is Falling Short for HPC

March 15, 2018

The last couple of years have seen cloud computing gradually build some legitimacy within the HPC world, but still the HPC industry lies far behind enterprise I Read more…

By Chris Downing

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Deep Learning at 15 PFlops Enables Training for Extreme Weather Identification at Scale

March 19, 2018

Petaflop per second deep learning training performance on the NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center) Cori supercomputer has given climate Read more…

By Rob Farber

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended Read more…

By Doug Black

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Lenovo Unveils Warm Water Cooled ThinkSystem SD650 in Rampup to LRZ Install

February 22, 2018

This week Lenovo took the wraps off the ThinkSystem SD650 high-density server with third-generation direct water cooling technology developed in tandem with par Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC and AI – Two Communities Same Future

January 25, 2018

According to Al Gara (Intel Fellow, Data Center Group), high performance computing and artificial intelligence will increasingly intertwine as we transition to Read more…

By Rob Farber

Inventor Claims to Have Solved Floating Point Error Problem

January 17, 2018

"The decades-old floating point error problem has been solved," proclaims a press release from inventor Alan Jorgensen. The computer scientist has filed for and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Chases Quantum Supremacy with 72-Qubit Processor

March 7, 2018

Google pulled ahead of the pack this week in the race toward "quantum supremacy," with the introduction of a new 72-qubit quantum processor called Bristlecone. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Wins $57 Million DoD Supercomputing Contract

February 20, 2018

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today revealed details of its massive $57 million HPC contract with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The deal calls for HP Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CFO Steps down in Executive Shuffle at Supermicro

January 31, 2018

Supermicro yesterday announced senior management shuffling including prominent departures, the completion of an audit linked to its delayed Nasdaq filings, and Read more…

By John Russell

Deep Learning Portends ‘Sea Change’ for Oil and Gas Sector

February 1, 2018

The billowing compute and data demands that spurred the oil and gas industry to be the largest commercial users of high-performance computing are now propelling Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Ups Hardware Game with 16-GPU DGX-2 Server and 18-Port NVSwitch

March 27, 2018

Nvidia unveiled a raft of new products from its annual technology conference in San Jose today, and despite not offering up a new chip architecture, there were still a few surprises in store for HPC hardware aficionados. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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