NVIDIA Offers Exascale Vision at SC11

By Michael Feldman

November 18, 2011

When NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang delivered his keynote at SC11 this week, it was easy to forget that a few short years ago, the company and its GPU products had absolutely nothing to do with supercomputing. Today, of course, the technology is a driving force in the HPC ecosystem and is challenging the entrenched interests of chip makers Intel, AMD, and IBM.

Not that GPUs are a huge revenue generator for NVIDIA just yet. Of the company’s $3.3 billion in annual revenue, just $100 million can be attributed to HPC Tesla sales. “We haven’t turned it into a great business yet,” Huang told HPCwire, after Tuesday’s keynote.

NVIDIA’s journey down the HPC path did not begin the company boardroom, however. According to Huang, the most important day for GPU computing happened several years ago when two doctors from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston approached NVIDIA with idea of using their GPUs for computed tomography (CT) imaging reconstruction to detect breast cancer.

The problem with the hospital’s current setup was that an HPC cluster was needed to for the compute-intensive rendering of the CT scans. The doctors wanted to shrink this work down onto a workstation and had heard these new-fangled things in GPUs called programmable shaders might make it possible tap into the floating point power of graphics processors.

Sure enough the GPUs work as expected, and they were able to reduce CT rendering times, improving the whole diagnostic workflow. Although Mass General only bought two graphics cards for their needs at the time, Huang says GPUs are now the de facto rendering accelerator and are in 100 percent of CT scanners today.

The rest, as they say, is history. Today all of the HPC OEMs offer NVIDIA GPU-equipped systems of one sort or another, and system deployments are on the rise. According to IDC, 28 percent of HPC sites were using accelerators in 2010 — predominantly NVIDIA GPUs — from a standing start of zero in 2005.

At the top of the HPC food chain, there are 35 TOP500 systems with NVIDIA GPUs (twice as many as in June). Of these, three of the top five supercomputers are equipped with GPUs, with more on the way in 2012 with the 20-petaflop Titan system at Oak Ridge National Lab and the 11.5 petaflop Blue Waters super at NCSA.

Most of the popularity of this architecture for HPC rests on the fact that NVIDIA’s GPUs are ubiquitous in the adjacent areas of computing. Today there are 350 million or so CUDA-capable GPUs that have been shipped, the majority of which are in desktops and laptops, and this has attracted over 120 thousand CUDA developers. As a result, CUDA programming is being taught at nearly five hundred universities around the world.

In Huang’s SC11 keynote, he pointed out that the rise of HPC-style GPU computing has come about because traditional CPUs, especially x86 ones, have become rather inefficient at compute- and data-intensive computation. For example, he said CPUs use 50 times the energy to schedule the instructions and 20 times the energy to move the data than doing the actual calculation.

GPUs, by contrast, are designed to reduce data movement, and although they have poor single threaded performance because of their simple processing engines, there are many more of them to do the work in parallel. That makes for more efficient computation, assuming the application can be molded into the GPU computing model.

Huang believes the demand for energy efficient HPC flops will work in NVIDIA’s favor, noting that “supercomputers have become power limited. — just like cell phones, just like tablets.” From his perspective, future GPUs will be the platform of choice to power exaflop machines. And although Huang said those supercomputers will be able to perform at that level with just 20 MW, his crystal ball doesn’t have that happening until 2022.

In that timeframe, a second or third generation integrated ARM-GPU processor will be the most likely design. NVIDIA’s “Maxwell” GPU generation, scheduled to make its appearance in the middle of the decade, is slated to be the first NVIDIA platform to integrate their upcoming “Project Denver” ARM CPU, a homegrown design that will become the basis for all of the company’s product lines. From then on, it’s safe to assume that integration will just get tighter. By 2022, it may not make much sense to even refer to these heterogeneous processors as GPUs anymore.

NVIDIA’s early lead in the HPC accelerator business is not insurmountable though. Intel is also positioning itself to be the dominant chip maker of the exascale era, drawing its own line in the sand with a target of 2018 for an Intel-powered exaflop machine. The most likely processor design for such a system will involve Xeon cores integrated with MIC cores on the same chip, although no public plans to that effect have been aired.

AMD has been more equivocal with regard to its exascale aspirations, but the company has certainly been the early mover in heterogeneous CPU-GPU designs with its Fusion APU architecture. Their near-term plans involve putting high-end “Bulldozer” cores into an APU next year as well as adding ECC to their GPU computing line.

Their could be other vendors to challenge NVIDIA and its competitors for the future of supercomputing. Texas Instruments, for example, has just officially launched a floating point DSP with rather impressive performance/watt numbers that is being cross-targeted to HPC. Other ARM vendors could get into the act too, especially if the chip is able to establish itself in the server space with the upcoming 64-bit designs.

The lesson of NVIDIA, pointed out by Huang in his keynote, is that disruptive technologies, like GPU computing, often emerge from new products, like cell phones and tablets, which quickly ramp into volume markets. And although NVIDIA has managed to exploit that phenomenon very effectively for HPC over the last five years, it is unlikely to be the last company to do so. The volume market for the processor of the exascale era may not even exist yet.

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!

What’s New in HPC Research: Natural Gas, Precision Agriculture, Neural Networks and More

December 6, 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

On the Spack Track @SC19

December 5, 2019

At the annual supercomputing conference, SC19 in Denver, Colorado, there were Spack events each day of the conference. As a reflection of its grassroots heritage, nine sessions were planned by more than a dozen thought leaders from seven organizations, including three U.S. national Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories and Sylabs... Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake

Intel’s New Hyderabad Design Center Targets Exascale Era Technologies

December 3, 2019

Intel's Raja Koduri was in India this week to help launch a new 300,000 square foot design and engineering center in Hyderabad, which will focus on advanced computing technologies for the AI and exascale era. "Over th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AWS Debuts 7nm 2nd-Gen Graviton Arm Processor

December 3, 2019

The “x86 Big Bang,” in which market dominance of the venerable Intel CPU has exploded into fragments of processor options suited to varying workloads, has now encompassed CPUs offered by the leading public cloud serv Read more…

By Doug Black

Medical Imaging Gets an AI Boost

December 3, 2019

AI technologies incorporated into diagnostic imaging tools have proven useful in eliminating confirmation bias, often outperforming human clinicians who may bring their own prejudices. Another issue slowing progress is t Read more…

By George Leopold

AWS Solution Channel

Making High Performance Computing Affordable and Accessible for Small and Medium Businesses with HPC on AWS

High performance computing (HPC) brings a powerful set of tools to a broad range of industries, helping to drive innovation and boost revenue in finance, genomics, oil and gas extraction, and other fields. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

AI Needs Intelligent HPC infrastructure

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has revolutionized entire industries and enables humanity to solve some of the most daunting challenges. To accomplish this, it requires massive amounts of data from heterogeneous sources that is processed it new ways that differs significantly from HPC applications. Read more…

Ride on the Wild Side – Squyres SC19 Mars Rovers Keynote

December 2, 2019

Reminding us of the deep and enabling connection between HPC and modern science is an important part of the SC Conference mission. And yes, HPC is a science itself. At SC19, Steve Squyres’ opening keynote recounting th Read more…

By John Russell

On the Spack Track @SC19

December 5, 2019

At the annual supercomputing conference, SC19 in Denver, Colorado, there were Spack events each day of the conference. As a reflection of its grassroots heritage, nine sessions were planned by more than a dozen thought leaders from seven organizations, including three U.S. national Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories and Sylabs... Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake

Intel’s New Hyderabad Design Center Targets Exascale Era Technologies

December 3, 2019

Intel's Raja Koduri was in India this week to help launch a new 300,000 square foot design and engineering center in Hyderabad, which will focus on advanced com Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AWS Debuts 7nm 2nd-Gen Graviton Arm Processor

December 3, 2019

The “x86 Big Bang,” in which market dominance of the venerable Intel CPU has exploded into fragments of processor options suited to varying workloads, has n Read more…

By Doug Black

Ride on the Wild Side – Squyres SC19 Mars Rovers Keynote

December 2, 2019

Reminding us of the deep and enabling connection between HPC and modern science is an important part of the SC Conference mission. And yes, HPC is a science its Read more…

By John Russell

NSCI Update – Adapting to a Changing Landscape

December 2, 2019

It was November of 2017 when we last visited the topic of the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI). As you will recall, the NSCI was started with an Executive Order (E.O. No. 13702), that was issued by President Obama in July of 2015 and was followed by a Strategic Plan that was released in July of 2016. The question for November of 2017... Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Tsinghua University Racks Up Its Ninth Student Cluster Championship Win at SC19

November 27, 2019

Tsinghua University has done it again. At SC19 last week, the eight-time gold medal-winner team took home the top prize in the 2019 Student Cluster Competition Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

SC19: IBM Changes Its HPC-AI Game Plan

November 25, 2019

It’s probably fair to say IBM is known for big bets. Summit supercomputer – a big win. Red Hat acquisition – looking like a big win. OpenPOWER and Power processors – jury’s out? At SC19, long-time IBMer Dave Turek sketched out a different kind of bet for Big Blue – a small ball strategy, if you’ll forgive the baseball analogy... Read more…

By John Russell

How the Gordon Bell Prize Winners Used Summit to Illuminate Transistors

November 22, 2019

At SC19, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) awarded the prestigious Gordon Bell Prize to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich. The Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DARPA Looks to Propel Parallelism

September 4, 2019

As Moore’s law runs out of steam, new programming approaches are being pursued with the goal of greater hardware performance with less coding. The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency is launching a new programming effort aimed at leveraging the benefits of massive distributed parallelism with less sweat. Read more…

By George Leopold

D-Wave’s Path to 5000 Qubits; Google’s Quantum Supremacy Claim

September 24, 2019

On the heels of IBM’s quantum news last week come two more quantum items. D-Wave Systems today announced the name of its forthcoming 5000-qubit system, Advantage (yes the name choice isn’t serendipity), at its user conference being held this week in Newport, RI. Read more…

By John Russell

Ayar Labs to Demo Photonics Chiplet in FPGA Package at Hot Chips

August 19, 2019

Silicon startup Ayar Labs continues to gain momentum with its DARPA-backed optical chiplet technology that puts advanced electronics and optics on the same chip Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC19: IBM Changes Its HPC-AI Game Plan

November 25, 2019

It’s probably fair to say IBM is known for big bets. Summit supercomputer – a big win. Red Hat acquisition – looking like a big win. OpenPOWER and Power processors – jury’s out? At SC19, long-time IBMer Dave Turek sketched out a different kind of bet for Big Blue – a small ball strategy, if you’ll forgive the baseball analogy... Read more…

By John Russell

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing compon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Crystal Ball Gazing: IBM’s Vision for the Future of Computing

October 14, 2019

Dario Gil, IBM’s relatively new director of research, painted a intriguing portrait of the future of computing along with a rough idea of how IBM thinks we’ Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

ISC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
GOOGLE
GOOGLE
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL

Intel Debuts New GPU – Ponte Vecchio – and Outlines Aspirations for oneAPI

November 17, 2019

Intel today revealed a few more details about its forthcoming Xe line of GPUs – the top SKU is named Ponte Vecchio and will be used in Aurora, the first plann Read more…

By John Russell

Kubernetes, Containers and HPC

September 19, 2019

Software containers and Kubernetes are important tools for building, deploying, running and managing modern enterprise applications at scale and delivering enterprise software faster and more reliably to the end user — while using resources more efficiently and reducing costs. Read more…

By Daniel Gruber, Burak Yenier and Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud

Dell Ramps Up HPC Testing of AMD Rome Processors

October 21, 2019

Dell Technologies is wading deeper into the AMD-based systems market with a growing evaluation program for the latest Epyc (Rome) microprocessors from AMD. In a Read more…

By John Russell

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC19: Welcome to Denver

November 17, 2019

A significant swath of the HPC community has come to Denver for SC19, which began today (Sunday) with a rich technical program. As is customary, the ribbon cutt Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

When Dense Matrix Representations Beat Sparse

September 9, 2019

In our world filled with unintended consequences, it turns out that saving memory space to help deal with GPU limitations, knowing it introduces performance pen Read more…

By James Reinders

With the Help of HPC, Astronomers Prepare to Deflect a Real Asteroid

September 26, 2019

For years, NASA has been running simulations of asteroid impacts to understand the risks (and likelihoods) of asteroids colliding with Earth. Now, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are preparing for the next, crucial step in planetary defense against asteroid impacts: physically deflecting a real asteroid. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Cerebras to Supply DOE with Wafer-Scale AI Supercomputing Technology

September 17, 2019

Cerebras Systems, which debuted its wafer-scale AI silicon at Hot Chips last month, has entered into a multi-year partnership with Argonne National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as part of a larger collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy... 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