GPUs Will Morph ORNL’s Jaguar Into 20-Petaflop Titan

By Michael Feldman

October 11, 2011

Jaguar’s days as a CPU-only supercomputer are numbered. Over the next year, the 2.3 petaflop machine at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) will be upgraded by Cray with the new NVIDIA “Kepler” GPUs, producing a system with about 10 times Jaguar’s peak performance. The transformed supercomputer will be renamed Titan and should deliver in the neigborhood of 20 peak petaflops sometime in late 2012.

The current Jaguar system, which has already been upgraded numerous times since it was first deployed in 2009, currently sits at number three on the TOP500 list with a Linpack reading of 1.76 petaflops. Titan will certainly keep the machine in the top 5, even as machines with tens of petaflops start making their way into the big labs over the next couple years.

Titan will also represent the US entry in the echelons of top tier GPU-accelerated supercomputing. As it stands today, three of the top five systems are GPU accelerated: Tianhe-1A and Nebulae in China, and TSUBAME 2.0 in Japan. The current top GPU machine in the US is Edge, a 240-teraflop Appro cluster at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Even Russia, Germany, Italy have larger systems.

According to Steve Scott, the newly minted chief technology officer for NVIDIA’s Tesla Business Unit, the fact that ORNL is making such a significant commitment to GPU computing is a big endorsement for the architecture. It’s no secret that HPC is now constrained by energy use. Moore’s Law has managed to shrink the transistor geometries, but the power wall has become the defining limitation for performance increases. “It’s all about power efficiency” Scott told HPCwire, “which is why we think the GPU story is so compelling.”

While GPUs are not truly general-purpose processors, their ability to perform data-parallel computation in a much more energy-efficient manner than CPUs has vaulted them to prominence in the HPC realm. “It’s hard to overstate the importance of the sea change that has happened in high performance computing,” notes Scott. “This wonderful ride we’ve been on for the past 30 years — every time we halve the size of transistor, the voltage drops, power stays the same, and performance improves exponentially — has been fantastic, but it’s done.”

Although the US, in general, has been a bit late in embracing GPU technology for HPC, the Titan supercomputer has been on the drawing board at Oak Ridge for at least a couple of years. But the technology necessary to implement that machine is just now catching up with those requirements.

Beginning this fall, most of 18,688 of Jaguar’s current XT5 nodes will be retrofitted with Cray’s new XK6 blades, which the company unveiled in May. The immediate result is that the current dual-socket 6-core AMD Opteron nodes will be swapped out for a single 16-core “Interlagos” CPU node and the interconnect will upgraded from SeaStar 2 to Gemini. Each XK6 blade encompasses four compute nodes, with an Opteron on each one, and the ability to connect each of those CPUs to a Tesla GPU on a PCIe daughter card.

Initially, 960 of those XK6 nodes will be outfitted with the Fermi-class Tesla M2090 GPUs, with the other odd 17 thousand remaining as CPU-only blades for the time being. This first phase of Titan is expected to be completed before the end of the year. Then in the second half of 2012, all 18,688 nodes, including the original Fermi-equipped blades, will be populated with NVIDIA’s next-generation Kepler Teslas.

NVIDIA has not provided detailed specs on the Kepler GPUs, but according to Scott their performance per watt will be more be than double that of the Fermi parts, while fitting into the same power envelope. Given the current Fermi Tesla cards (GPUs plus memory) deliver 665 gigaflops, the new Kepler GPU should yield at least 1330 gigaflops.

For the time being, Oak Ridge is promising only 10 to 20 petaflops for the final system, although the peak performance could go considerably higher. According to Buddy Bland, project director at ORNL’s Leadership Computing Facility, they currently don’t have the money in hand to upgrade all 18K nodes. The actual scope of the Titan build-out will “depend on the budget available.”

Theoretically though, if all existing nodes are populated with the new Kepler parts, the system should deliver at least 24.8 petaflops of GPU power. An equal number of Interlagos CPUs should contribute more than two additional petaflops on top of that. By the time all the dust has settled, Titan could be within spitting distance of 30 petaflops. 

The amount of power the new system will draw is also unknown, but it will certainly have a better performance per watt ratio than Jaguar, which sucks up nearly 7 MW for its 2.33 peak petaflops. By contrast, Japan’s Fermi-accelerated TSUBAME system uses just 1.4 MW for its 2.29 petaflops. Since ORNL’s new machine will use the more efficient Kepler GPUs, its efficiency should be significantly better. “We view Titan as the leading indicator of where people are going as they look to solve the energy challenges for the next five to ten years,” says Scott.

How all those peak flops turn into actual application performance remains to be seen. Extracting high levels of sustained computation from these multi-petaflop machines is notoriously difficult, with only a handful of codes able to attain more than a petaflop of performance. Adding GPUs to the mix has made that harder, at least in the short term.

In this regard, Oak Ridge, with one of the premier computational lab’s on the planet, has a good chance of pushing the envelope. Using smaller GPU clusters, computations scientists at ORNL and elsewhere have been busy porting six flagship science codes to CUDA, include Wang-Landau/LSMS for material science; S3D for engine combustion; PFLOTRAN for underground C02 sequestration and for underground contaminant containment; Denovo for radiation transport code in nuclear engineering; CAM-SE for climate change modeling; and LAMMPS, a molecular dynamics simulation code. Scott says ORNL, Cray and NVIDIA have been working together to adapt these science codes for heterogenous computing so that they are ready to go when Titan boots up.

This first phase of Titan is expected to generate more than $60 million in revenue for Cray, which could end up in the company’s hands before the end of the year. Over the lifetime of the contract, Cray is looking to collect more than $97 million, although if upgrade options are exercised, that number could go considerably higher.

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!

GTC 2019: Chief Scientist Bill Dally Provides Glimpse into Nvidia Research Engine

March 22, 2019

Amid the frenzy of GTC this week – Nvidia’s annual conference showcasing all things GPU (and now AI) – William Dally, chief scientist and SVP of research, provided a brief but insightful portrait of Nvidia’s rese Read more…

By John Russell

ORNL Helps Identify Challenges of Extremely Heterogeneous Architectures

March 21, 2019

Exponential growth in classical computing over the last two decades has produced hardware and software that support lightning-fast processing speeds, but advancements are topping out as computing architectures reach thei Read more…

By Laurie Varma

Interview with 2019 Person to Watch Jim Keller

March 21, 2019

On the heels of Intel's reaffirmation that it will deliver the first U.S. exascale computer in 2021, which will feature the company's new Intel Xe architecture, we bring you our interview with our 2019 Person to Watch Jim Keller, head of the Silicon Engineering Group at Intel. Read more…

By HPCwire Editorial Team

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

Insurance: Where’s the Risk?

Insurers are facing extreme competitive challenges in their core businesses. Property and Casualty (P&C) and Life and Health (L&H) firms alike are highly impacted by the ongoing globalization, increasing regulation, and digital transformation of their client bases. Read more…

What’s New in HPC Research: TensorFlow, Buddy Compression, Intel Optane & More

March 20, 2019

In this bimonthly feature, HPCwire highlights newly published research in the high-performance computing community and related domains. From parallel programming to exascale to quantum computing, the details are here. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

GTC 2019: Chief Scientist Bill Dally Provides Glimpse into Nvidia Research Engine

March 22, 2019

Amid the frenzy of GTC this week – Nvidia’s annual conference showcasing all things GPU (and now AI) – William Dally, chief scientist and SVP of research, Read more…

By John Russell

At GTC: Nvidia Expands Scope of Its AI and Datacenter Ecosystem

March 19, 2019

In the high-stakes race to provide the AI life-cycle solution of choice, three of the biggest horses in the field are IBM, Intel and Nvidia. While the latter is only a fraction of the size of its two bigger rivals, and has been in business for only a fraction of the time, Nvidia continues to impress with an expanding array of new GPU-based hardware, software, robotics, partnerships and... Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia Debuts Clara AI Toolkit with Pre-Trained Models for Radiology Use

March 19, 2019

AI’s push into healthcare got a boost yesterday with Nvidia’s release of the Clara Deploy AI toolkit which includes 13 pre-trained models for use in radiolo Read more…

By John Russell

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

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

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

Quick Take: Trump’s 2020 Budget Spares DoE-funded HPC but Slams NSF and NIH

March 12, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget request, released yesterday, proposes deep cuts in many science programs but seems to spare HPC funding by the Depar Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Wins Mellanox Stakes for $6.9 Billion

March 11, 2019

The long-rumored acquisition of Mellanox came to fruition this morning with GPU chipmaker Nvidia’s announcement that it has purchased the high-performance net Read more…

By Doug Black

Quantum Computing Will Never Work

November 27, 2018

Amid the gush of money and enthusiastic predictions being thrown at quantum computing comes a proposed cold shower in the form of an essay by physicist Mikhail Read more…

By John Russell

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

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

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

Contract Signed for New Finnish Supercomputer

December 13, 2018

After the official contract signing yesterday, configuration details were made public for the new BullSequana system that the Finnish IT Center for Science (CSC Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Move Over Lustre & Spectrum Scale – Here Comes BeeGFS?

November 26, 2018

Is BeeGFS – the parallel file system with European roots – on a path to compete with Lustre and Spectrum Scale worldwide in HPC environments? Frank Herold Read more…

By John Russell

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