Intel Takes a Bite Out of NVIDIA’s HPC Business

By Michael Feldman

September 22, 2011

The HPC contingent at NVIDIA must be stinging a bit today when they learned of Intel’s first big Many Integrated Core (MIC) win at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). The 10-petaflop super, named Stampede, is scheduled to boot up at the end of 2012, and will have 8 petaflops worth of Intel’s manycore Knights Corner coprocessors.

The NSF, who funded the system, is shelling out $2.5 million for thousands of MIC chips — money that would probably be going to NVIDIA’s bottom line had Intel stayed out of the HPC coprocessor biz. More disturbing for NVIDIA perhaps is that Intel doesn’t even have production parts in the field, but managed to convince the NSF, TACC and its partners that MIC was the way to go. When I spoke with TACC Director Jay Boisseau, he told me that the manycore chips they expect to be getting in the fall of 2012 are pre-production Knights Corner parts, but otherwise identical to the final version.

TACC telegraphed the deal in April when it signed up to port some science apps to Knights Ferry, the 32-core MIC prototype platform. They subsequently built a small cluster outfitted with Knights Ferry coprocessors and started kicking the tires. Apparently that went well enough to warrant the 8 petaflop buy-in.

NVIDIA managed to garner some token approval in the Stampede project. A hundred or so of its next-generation Kepler GPUs will be hooked into some of the nodes, but mostly to be used for remote visualization. There are also a couple of NVIDIA GPUs attached to each of the 16 nodes of Stampede’s big memory sub-cluster for data analytics-type workloads.

But the lion’s share of the supercomputer’s computational horsepower will come from Intel silicon. In addition to the 8 petaflops of MIC, 2 petaflops will be supplied by the upcoming Sandy Bridge CPUs, the 8-core Xeon E5, which will power the main cluster of 6,400 dual-socket nodes. An additional 5 petaflops of second-generation MIC coprocessors will be added in a couple years.

Knights Corner is going to have upwards of 50-cores and deliver something north of 1 teraflop of double precision number crunching performance, which should more or less match the new Kepler GPUs. The new NVIDIA parts are slated to arrive sometime in 2012, and it looks like volume production for Knights Corner won’t start until 2013. I don’t know how much of difference that will really make, especially in light of the choice TACC and the NSF just made.

Intel has more than 100 partners right now running their codes on the prototype MIC processors. The early returns appear to be positive, especially in regard to ease of programming. The x86 manycore architecture lends itself well to OpenMP-style programming, which gives it a built-in HPC customer base.

That’s something NVIDIA didn’t have when it began its GPGPU push into HPC in 2006. The GPU maker had to invent the CUDA software framework and then bring developers on board, which it managed to do quite successfully over the last five years. Intel, with its OpenMP-friendly architecture, will allow many HPC developers to leapfrog much of that onerous software transition phase.

Intel is pushing hard into HPC right now, noting opportunities like Stampede to sell barrels of chips with a single deal. But there is also the general feeling that the HPC market is an insatiable beast for high-powered processors. In a blog posted on Thursday by Joe Curley, Intel Director of Technical Computing, he lays out the rationale for Intel’s high performance computing enthusiasm:

Last week at the Intel Developer Forum, Kirk Skaugen, VP and GM of Intel’s Data Center and Connected Systems Group, talked about the huge growth that is expected in HPC in coming years. (For those who didn’t have a chance to attend IDF you can see video of Kirk’s presentation here -> part 1 & part 2). Our estimations show that by 2015, the world’s top 100 supercomputers will be powered by 2 million CPUs and by 2019 this number will reach 8 million CPUs. To give you a perspective, in 2010, Intel shipped about 8 million server processors in total.

That’s a rather compelling incentive for any chipmaker to be in the HPC business.

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!

RSC Reports 500Tflops, Hot Water Cooled System Deployed at JINR

April 18, 2018

RSC, developer of supercomputers and advanced HPC systems based in Russia, today reported deployment of “the world's first 100% ‘hot water’ liquid cooled supercomputer” at Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JI Read more…

By Staff

New Device Spots Quantum Particle ‘Fingerprint’

April 18, 2018

Majorana particles have been observed by university researchers employing a device consisting of layers of magnetic insulators on a superconducting material. The advance opens the door to controlling the elusive particle Read more…

By George Leopold

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’s introduction of an ARM-based system (XC-50) last November. Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Hybrid HPC is Speeding Time to Insight and Revolutionizing Medicine

High performance computing (HPC) is a key driver of success in many verticals today, and health and life science industries are extensively leveraging these capabilities. Read more…

Hennessy & Patterson: A New Golden Age for Computer Architecture

April 17, 2018

On Monday June 4, 2018, 2017 A.M. Turing Award Winners John L. Hennessy and David A. Patterson will deliver the Turing Lecture at the 45th International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA) in Los Angeles. The Read more…

By Staff

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’ Read more…

By John Russell

IBM: Software Ecosystem for OpenPOWER is Ready for Prime Time

April 16, 2018

With key pieces of the IBM/OpenPOWER versus Intel/x86 gambit settling into place – e.g., the arrival of Power9 chips and Power9-based systems, hyperscaler sup Read more…

By John Russell

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

Cloud-Readiness and Looking Beyond Application Scaling

April 11, 2018

There are two aspects to consider when determining if an application is suitable for running in the cloud. The first, which we will discuss here under the title Read more…

By Chris Downing

Transitioning from Big Data to Discovery: Data Management as a Keystone Analytics Strategy

April 9, 2018

The past 10-15 years has seen a stark rise in the density, size, and diversity of scientific data being generated in every scientific discipline in the world. Key among the sciences has been the explosion of laboratory technologies that generate large amounts of data in life-sciences and healthcare research. Large amounts of data are now being stored in very large storage name spaces, with little to no organization and a general unease about how to approach analyzing it. Read more…

By Ari Berman, BioTeam, Inc.

IBM Expands Quantum Computing Network

April 5, 2018

IBM is positioning itself as a first mover in establishing the era of commercial quantum computing. The company believes in order for quantum to work, taming qu Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

FY18 Budget & CORAL-2 – Exascale USA Continues to Move Ahead

April 2, 2018

It was not pretty. However, despite some twists and turns, the federal government’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget is complete and ended with some very positi Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

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

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

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

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

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

Chip Flaws ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Loom Large

January 4, 2018

The HPC and wider tech community have been abuzz this week over the discovery of critical design flaws that impact virtually all contemporary microprocessors. T Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fast Forward: Five HPC Predictions for 2018

December 21, 2017

What’s on your list of high (and low) lights for 2017? Volta 100’s arrival on the heels of the P100? Appearance, albeit late in the year, of IBM’s Power9? Read more…

By John Russell

How Meltdown and Spectre Patches Will Affect HPC Workloads

January 10, 2018

There have been claims that the fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, named the KPTI (aka KAISER) patches, are going to affect applicatio Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

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

Leading Solution Providers

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

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

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

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

New Blueprint for Converging HPC, Big Data

January 18, 2018

After five annual workshops on Big Data and Extreme-Scale Computing (BDEC), a group of international HPC heavyweights including Jack Dongarra (University of Te Read more…

By John Russell

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

Momentum Builds for US Exascale

January 9, 2018

2018 looks to be a great year for the U.S. exascale program. The last several months of 2017 revealed a number of important developments that help put the U.S. Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

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

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