Taking a Disruptive Approach to Exascale

By Nicole Hemsoth

August 18, 2011

Early in August the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science and Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) held a workshop called “Exascale and Beyond: Gaps in Research, Gaps in our Thinking” that brought together luminaries from the world of high performance computing to discuss research and practical challenges at exascale.

Given the scope of the short event’s series of discussions, we wanted to highlight a few noteworthy presentations to lend a view into how researchers perceive the coming challenges of exascale computing. While all of the speakers addressed known challenges of exascale computing, most brought their own research and practical experiences from large HPC centers to bear.

For instance, MIT professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and director of the university’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) Anant Agarwal asked attendees if the current approach to exascale computing is radical enough.

Agarwal focused on the targets set by the Ubiquitous High Performance Computing (UHPC) set forth by DARPA, claiming that the debates have centered on increasing performance while reducing energy but that the challenges are far greater than mere energy. Agarwal argues that the other great hurdles lie in programmability and resiliency—and that to arrive at solutions for these problems, “disruptive research” is required. This kind of research will focus on the fact that getting two out the three big problems (performance, efficiency and programmability) will be relatively “easy” getting all three right presents significant challenges.

NVIDIA’s Bill Dally echoed some of Agarwal’s assertions in his presentation, “Power and Programmability: The Challenges of Exascale Computing” in which he proclaimed the end to historic levels of scaling, citing challenges related to power and code.

In his presentation, Dally claimed that it’s not about the FLOPs any longer, it’s about data movement. And further, it’s not simply a matter of power efficiency as we traditionally think about, it’s about locality.

Dally argues that “algorithms should be designed to perform more work per unit data movement” and that “programming systems should further optimize this data movement.” He went to cite the fact that architectures need to facilitate data movement by providing an exposed hierarchy and efficient communication.

In some ways, Dally’s presentation offered some of the “disruptive” ideas Agarwal cited that can radicalize ways of thinking about exascale limitations. Dally’s focus on locality (optimizing data movement versus focusing on the FLOPs; optimizing subdivision and fetching paradigms; offering an exposed storage hierarchy with more efficient communication and bulk transfer) is a break from the norm in terms of offering solutions for exascale challenges—and one that generated rich fodder for the presentation, which you can find in detail here.

Locality was a hot-button issue at this workshop, drawing a detailed, solution-rich presentation from Allan Snavely, associate director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center and adjunct professor in UCSD’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

In his presentation, “Whose Job is it to Find Locality?” Snavely dug deeper into some of the initial concepts Dally put forth. Snavely recognized that people seem to be waiting on “magic” compilers and programming languages to come along, for application programmers to suddenly be rendered flawless, or for machines to simply let users choose how to burn up resources.

He claims that the attitude of “LINPACK has lots of locality, so what’s the problem” is the root of a problem as everyone waits for answers to locality problems to fall out of the sky. In his presentation, Snavely proposes a few solutions, including a new approach to the software stack found here.

In addition to moving the conversation out of the theoretical and into the realm of actual solutions, Snavely discussed how his UCSD team is currently developing tools and methodologies that can identify location in applications to reduce the processor frequency for effective power savings and further, working on tools that can automate the process of inserting “frequency throttling calls” into large-scale applications.

The Hunt for Perfect Solutions

The unstated theme of the workshop undoubtedly was focused on out-of-the-box thinking for exascale challenges that provide the “radical” approaches Agarwal and others touched upon. Still, it was useful to pick up on the practical and theoretical issues with presentations from notables, including Thomas Sterling, who discussed Exascale Execution Models, John Shalf who highlighted the past, present and future of exascale computing, and Dave Resnick who looked at the missing links that stand in the way before exascale computing becomes a reality.

Others provided real-world perspectives, including IBM Research Senior Manager, Mootaz Elnozahy, in his presentation on lessons learned from HPCS/PERCS project.

Aside from presentations addressing some of the research and practical challenges of exascale computing, others, including Keren Bergman and Norman Jouppi addressed the future of photonics in the era of exascale while others, including Dave Resnick, focused on memory (in this case Micron’s new memory component, the Hybrid Memory Cube).

With all presentation topics considered collectively, there is evidence that we are moving beyond simple questions about simple power or performance issues and into the realm of disruptive approaches to programming and optimizing for exascale systems. Detailed slides and other materials to further the conversation can be found here.

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!

Supercomputing Helps Explain the Milky Way’s Shape

September 30, 2022

If you look at the Milky Way from “above,” it almost looks like a cat’s eye: a circle of spiral arms with an oval “iris” in the middle. That iris — a starry bar that connects the spiral arms — has two stran Read more…

Top Supercomputers to Shake Up Earthquake Modeling

September 29, 2022

Two DOE-funded projects — and a bunch of top supercomputers — are converging to improve our understanding of earthquakes and enable the construction of more earthquake-resilient buildings and infrastructure. The firs Read more…

How Intel Plans to Rebuild Its Manufacturing Supply Chain

September 29, 2022

Intel's engineering roots saw a revival at this week's Innovation, with attendees recalling the show’s resemblance to Intel Developer Forum, the company's annual developer gala last held in 2016. The chipmaker cut t Read more…

Intel Labs Launches Neuromorphic ‘Kapoho Point’ Board

September 28, 2022

Over the past five years, Intel has been iterating on its neuromorphic chips and systems, aiming to create devices (and software for those devices) that closely mimic the behavior of the human brain through the use of co Read more…

DOE Announces $42M ‘COOLERCHIPS’ Datacenter Cooling Program

September 28, 2022

With massive machines like Frontier guzzling tens of megawatts of power to operate, datacenters’ energy use is of increasing concern for supercomputer operations – and particularly for the U.S. Department of Energy ( Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Shutterstock 1818499862

Rearchitecting AWS Batch managed services to leverage AWS Fargate

AWS service teams continuously improve the underlying infrastructure and operations of managed services, and AWS Batch is no exception. The AWS Batch team recently moved most of their job scheduler fleet to a serverless infrastructure model leveraging AWS Fargate. Read more…

Microsoft/NVIDIA Solution Channel

Shutterstock 1166887495

Improving Insurance Fraud Detection using AI Running on Cloud-based GPU-Accelerated Systems

Insurance is a highly regulated industry that is evolving as the industry faces changing customer expectations, massive amounts of data, and increased regulations. A major issue facing the industry is tracking insurance fraud. Read more…

Do You Believe in Science? Take the HPC Covid Safety Pledge

September 28, 2022

ISC 2022 was back in person, and the celebration was on. Frontier had been named the first exascale supercomputer on the Top500 list, and workshops, poster sessions, paper presentations, receptions, and booth meetings we Read more…

How Intel Plans to Rebuild Its Manufacturing Supply Chain

September 29, 2022

Intel's engineering roots saw a revival at this week's Innovation, with attendees recalling the show’s resemblance to Intel Developer Forum, the company's ann Read more…

Intel Labs Launches Neuromorphic ‘Kapoho Point’ Board

September 28, 2022

Over the past five years, Intel has been iterating on its neuromorphic chips and systems, aiming to create devices (and software for those devices) that closely Read more…

HPE to Build 100+ Petaflops Shaheen III Supercomputer

September 27, 2022

The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia has announced that HPE has won the bid to build the Shaheen III supercomputer. Sh Read more…

Intel’s New Programmable Chips Next Year to Replace Aging Products

September 27, 2022

Intel shared its latest roadmap of programmable chips, and doesn't want to dig itself into a hole by following AMD's strategy in the area.  "We're thankfully not matching their strategy," said Shannon Poulin, corporate vice president for the datacenter and AI group at Intel, in response to a question posed by HPCwire during a press briefing. The updated roadmap pieces together Intel's strategy for FPGAs... Read more…

Intel Ships Sapphire Rapids – to Its Cloud

September 27, 2022

Intel has had trouble getting its chips in the hands of customers on time, but is providing the next best thing – to try out those chips in the cloud. Delayed chips such as Sapphire Rapids server processors and Habana Gaudi 2 AI chip will be available on a platform called the Intel Developer Cloud, which was announced at the Intel Innovation event being held in San Jose, California. Read more…

More Details on ‘Half-Exaflop’ Horizon System, LCCF Emerge

September 26, 2022

Since 2017, plans for the Leadership-Class Computing Facility (LCCF) have been underway. Slated for full operation somewhere around 2026, the LCCF’s scope ext Read more…

Nvidia Shuts Out RISC-V Software Support for GPUs 

September 23, 2022

Nvidia is not interested in bringing software support to its GPUs for the RISC-V architecture despite being an early adopter of the open-source technology in its GPU controllers. Nvidia has no plans to add RISC-V support for CUDA, which is the proprietary GPU software platform, a company representative... Read more…

Nvidia Introduces New Ada Lovelace GPU Architecture, OVX Systems, Omniverse Cloud

September 20, 2022

In his GTC keynote today, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang launched another new Nvidia GPU architecture: Ada Lovelace, named for the legendary mathematician regarded as Read more…

Nvidia Shuts Out RISC-V Software Support for GPUs 

September 23, 2022

Nvidia is not interested in bringing software support to its GPUs for the RISC-V architecture despite being an early adopter of the open-source technology in its GPU controllers. Nvidia has no plans to add RISC-V support for CUDA, which is the proprietary GPU software platform, a company representative... Read more…

AWS Takes the Short and Long View of Quantum Computing

August 30, 2022

It is perhaps not surprising that the big cloud providers – a poor term really – have jumped into quantum computing. Amazon, Microsoft Azure, Google, and th Read more…

US Senate Passes CHIPS Act Temperature Check, but Challenges Linger

July 19, 2022

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed a major hurdle that will open up close to $52 billion in grants for the semiconductor industry to boost manufacturing, supply chain and research and development. U.S. senators voted 64-34 in favor of advancing the CHIPS Act, which sets the stage for the final consideration... Read more…

Chinese Startup Biren Details BR100 GPU

August 22, 2022

Amid the high-performance GPU turf tussle between AMD and Nvidia (and soon, Intel), a new, China-based player is emerging: Biren Technology, founded in 2019 and headquartered in Shanghai. At Hot Chips 34, Biren co-founder and president Lingjie Xu and Biren CTO Mike Hong took the (virtual) stage to detail the company’s inaugural product: the Biren BR100 general-purpose GPU (GPGPU). “It is my honor to present... Read more…

Newly-Observed Higgs Mode Holds Promise in Quantum Computing

June 8, 2022

The first-ever appearance of a previously undetectable quantum excitation known as the axial Higgs mode – exciting in its own right – also holds promise for developing and manipulating higher temperature quantum materials... Read more…

AMD’s MI300 APUs to Power Exascale El Capitan Supercomputer

June 21, 2022

Additional details of the architecture of the exascale El Capitan supercomputer were disclosed today by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) Terri Read more…

Tesla Bulks Up Its GPU-Powered AI Super – Is Dojo Next?

August 16, 2022

Tesla has revealed that its biggest in-house AI supercomputer – which we wrote about last year – now has a total of 7,360 A100 GPUs, a nearly 28 percent uplift from its previous total of 5,760 GPUs. That’s enough GPU oomph for a top seven spot on the Top500, although the tech company best known for its electric vehicles has not publicly benchmarked the system. If it had, it would... Read more…

Exclusive Inside Look at First US Exascale Supercomputer

July 1, 2022

HPCwire takes you inside the Frontier datacenter at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tenn., for an interview with Frontier Project Direc Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

AMD Opens Up Chip Design to the Outside for Custom Future

June 15, 2022

AMD is getting personal with chips as it sets sail to make products more to the liking of its customers. The chipmaker detailed a modular chip future in which customers can mix and match non-AMD processors in a custom chip package. "We are focused on making it easier to implement chips with more flexibility," said Mark Papermaster, chief technology officer at AMD during the analyst day meeting late last week. Read more…

Nvidia, Intel to Power Atos-Built MareNostrum 5 Supercomputer

June 16, 2022

The long-troubled, hotly anticipated MareNostrum 5 supercomputer finally has a vendor: Atos, which will be supplying a system that includes both Nvidia and Inte Read more…

UCIe Consortium Incorporates, Nvidia and Alibaba Round Out Board

August 2, 2022

The Universal Chiplet Interconnect Express (UCIe) consortium is moving ahead with its effort to standardize a universal interconnect at the package level. The c Read more…

Using Exascale Supercomputers to Make Clean Fusion Energy Possible

September 2, 2022

Fusion, the nuclear reaction that powers the Sun and the stars, has incredible potential as a source of safe, carbon-free and essentially limitless energy. But Read more…

Is Time Running Out for Compromise on America COMPETES/USICA Act?

June 22, 2022

You may recall that efforts proposed in 2020 to remake the National Science Foundation (Endless Frontier Act) have since expanded and morphed into two gigantic bills, the America COMPETES Act in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act in the U.S. Senate. So far, efforts to reconcile the two pieces of legislation have snagged and recent reports... Read more…

Nvidia, Qualcomm Shine in MLPerf Inference; Intel’s Sapphire Rapids Makes an Appearance.

September 8, 2022

The steady maturation of MLCommons/MLPerf as an AI benchmarking tool was apparent in today’s release of MLPerf v2.1 Inference results. Twenty-one organization 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…

Not Just Cash for Chips – The New Chips and Science Act Boosts NSF, DOE, NIST

August 3, 2022

After two-plus years of contentious debate, several different names, and final passage by the House (243-187) and Senate (64-33) last week, the Chips and Science Act will soon become law. Besides the $54.2 billion provided to boost US-based chip manufacturing, the act reshapes US science policy in meaningful ways. NSF’s proposed budget... Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire