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!

Is Data Science the Fourth Pillar of the Scientific Method?

April 18, 2019

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang revived a decade-old debate last month when he said that modern data science (AI plus HPC) has become the fourth pillar of the scientific method. While some disagree with the notion that statistic Read more…

By Alex Woodie

At ASF 2019: The Virtuous Circle of Big Data, AI and HPC

April 18, 2019

We've entered a new phase in IT -- in the world, really -- where the combination of big data, artificial intelligence, and high performance computing is pushing the bounds of what's possible in business and science, in w Read more…

By Alex Woodie with Doug Black and Tiffany Trader

Google Open Sources TensorFlow Version of MorphNet DL Tool

April 18, 2019

Designing optimum deep neural networks remains a non-trivial exercise. “Given the large search space of possible architectures, designing a network from scratch for your specific application can be prohibitively expens Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture: How to Power a Cloud

Learn how HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture provide critical infrastructure for leading Nordic HPC provider’s HPCFLOW cloud service.

powercloud_blog.jpgFor decades, HPE has been at the forefront of high-performance computing, and we’ve powered some of the fastest and most robust supercomputers in the world. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Bridging HPC and Cloud Native Development with Kubernetes

The HPC community has historically developed its own specialized software stack including schedulers, filesystems, developer tools, container technologies tuned for performance and large-scale on-premises deployments. Read more…

Interview with 2019 Person to Watch Michela Taufer

April 18, 2019

Today, as part of our ongoing HPCwire People to Watch focus series, we are highlighting our interview with 2019 Person to Watch Michela Taufer. Michela -- the General Chair of SC19 -- is an ACM Distinguished Scientist. Read more…

By HPCwire Editorial Team

At ASF 2019: The Virtuous Circle of Big Data, AI and HPC

April 18, 2019

We've entered a new phase in IT -- in the world, really -- where the combination of big data, artificial intelligence, and high performance computing is pushing Read more…

By Alex Woodie with Doug Black and Tiffany Trader

Intel Gold U-Series SKUs Reveal Single Socket Intentions

April 18, 2019

Intel plans to jump into the single socket market with a portion of its just announced Cascade Lake microprocessor line according to one media report. This isn Read more…

By John Russell

BSC Researchers Shrink Floating Point Formats to Accelerate Deep Neural Network Training

April 15, 2019

Sometimes calculating solutions as precisely as a computer can wastes more CPU resources than is necessary. A case in point is with deep learning. In early stag Read more…

By Ken Strandberg

Intel Extends FPGA Ecosystem with 10nm Agilex

April 11, 2019

The insatiable appetite for higher throughput and lower latency – particularly where edge analytics and AI, network functions, or for a range of datacenter ac Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia Doubles Down on Medical AI

April 9, 2019

Nvidia is collaborating with medical groups to push GPU-powered AI tools into clinical settings, including radiology and drug discovery. The GPU leader said Monday it will collaborate with the American College of Radiology (ACR) to provide clinicians with its Clara AI tool kit. The partnership would allow radiologists to leverage AI techniques for diagnostic imaging using their own clinical data. Read more…

By George Leopold

Digging into MLPerf Benchmark Suite to Inform AI Infrastructure Decisions

April 9, 2019

With machine learning and deep learning storming into the datacenter, the new challenge is optimizing infrastructure choices to support diverse ML and DL workfl Read more…

By John Russell

AI and Enterprise Datacenters Boost HPC Server Revenues Past Expectations – Hyperion

April 9, 2019

Building on the big year of 2017 and spurred in part by the convergence of AI and HPC, global revenue for high performance servers jumped 15.6 percent last year Read more…

By Doug Black

Intel Launches Cascade Lake Xeons with Up to 56 Cores

April 2, 2019

At Intel's Data-Centric Innovation Day in San Francisco (April 2), the company unveiled its second-generation Xeon Scalable (Cascade Lake) family and debuted it Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

Why Nvidia Bought Mellanox: ‘Future Datacenters Will Be…Like High Performance Computers’

March 14, 2019

“Future datacenters of all kinds will be built like high performance computers,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during a phone briefing on Monday after Nvidia revealed scooping up the high performance networking company Mellanox for $6.9 billion. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ClusterVision in Bankruptcy, Fate Uncertain

February 13, 2019

ClusterVision, European HPC specialists that have built and installed over 20 Top500-ranked systems in their nearly 17-year history, appear to be in the midst o Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Reportedly in $6B Bid for Mellanox

January 30, 2019

The latest rumors and reports around an acquisition of Mellanox focus on Intel, which has reportedly offered a $6 billion bid for the high performance interconn Read more…

By Doug Black

It’s Official: Aurora on Track to Be First US Exascale Computer in 2021

March 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy along with Intel and Cray confirmed today that an Intel/Cray supercomputer, "Aurora," capable of sustained performance of one exaf Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Looking for Light Reading? NSF-backed ‘Comic Books’ Tackle Quantum Computing

January 28, 2019

Still baffled by quantum computing? How about turning to comic books (graphic novels for the well-read among you) for some clarity and a little humor on QC. The Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Quantum Update: Q System One Launch, New Collaborators, and QC Center Plans

January 10, 2019

IBM made three significant quantum computing announcements at CES this week. One was introduction of IBM Q System One; it’s really the integration of IBM’s Read more…

By John Russell

Deep500: ETH Researchers Introduce New Deep Learning Benchmark for HPC

February 5, 2019

ETH researchers have developed a new deep learning benchmarking environment – Deep500 – they say is “the first distributed and reproducible benchmarking s Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

SC 18 Virtual Booth Video Tour

Advania @ SC18 AMD @ SC18
ASRock Rack @ SC18
DDN Storage @ SC18
HPE @ SC18
IBM @ SC18
Lenovo @ SC18 Mellanox Technologies @ SC18
NVIDIA @ SC18
One Stop Systems @ SC18
Oracle @ SC18 Panasas @ SC18
Supermicro @ SC18 SUSE @ SC18 TYAN @ SC18
Verne Global @ SC18

IBM Bets $2B Seeking 1000X AI Hardware Performance Boost

February 7, 2019

For now, AI systems are mostly machine learning-based and “narrow” – powerful as they are by today's standards, they're limited to performing a few, narro Read more…

By Doug Black

The Deep500 – Researchers Tackle an HPC Benchmark for Deep Learning

January 7, 2019

How do you know if an HPC system, particularly a larger-scale system, is well-suited for deep learning workloads? Today, that’s not an easy question to answer Read more…

By John Russell

Arm Unveils Neoverse N1 Platform with up to 128-Cores

February 20, 2019

Following on its Neoverse roadmap announcement last October, Arm today revealed its next-gen Neoverse microarchitecture with compute and throughput-optimized si Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Reflections and (Mostly Hopeful) Predictions

December 19, 2018

So much ‘spaghetti’ gets tossed on walls by the technology community (vendors and researchers) to see what sticks that it is often difficult to peer through Read more…

By John Russell

France to Deploy AI-Focused Supercomputer: Jean Zay

January 22, 2019

HPE announced today that it won the contract to build a supercomputer that will drive France’s AI and HPC efforts. The computer will be part of GENCI, the Fre Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Cascade Lake Xeons with Up to 56 Cores

April 2, 2019

At Intel's Data-Centric Innovation Day in San Francisco (April 2), the company unveiled its second-generation Xeon Scalable (Cascade Lake) family and debuted it Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Microsoft to Buy Mellanox?

December 20, 2018

Networking equipment powerhouse Mellanox could be an acquisition target by Microsoft, according to a published report in an Israeli financial publication. Microsoft has reportedly gone so far as to engage Goldman Sachs to handle negotiations with Mellanox. Read more…

By Doug Black

Oil and Gas Supercloud Clears Out Remaining Knights Landing Inventory: All 38,000 Wafers

March 13, 2019

The McCloud HPC service being built by Australia’s DownUnder GeoSolutions (DUG) outside Houston is set to become the largest oil and gas cloud in the world th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This