SGI Launches Second Generation UV Supercomputer

By Michael Feldman

June 14, 2012

The sequel to SGI’s UV supercomputer has arrived. Dubbed UV 2, the new platform doubles the number of cores and quadruples the memory that can be supported under a single system. The product, which will be officially announced next week at the International Supercomputing Conference in Hamburg, represents the first major revision of SGI’s original UV, which the company debuted in 2009.

The UV’s claim to fame is its ability to support “big memory” applications, whose datasets can stretch into the multiple-terabyte realm. Since the architecture supports large amounts of global shared memory, applications don’t have to slice their data into chunks to be distributed and processed across multiple server nodes, as would be the case for compute clusters. Thanks to the SGI’s NUMAlink interconnect, UV is able to glue together hundreds of CPUs and make them behave as a single manycore system with gobs of memory. Essentially, you can treat the machine as an ultra-scale Linux PC.

The new UV 2 takes this to another level. While the original UV could scale up to 2,048 cores and 16 TB of memory on a single system, UV 2 doubles the max core count to 4,096 and quadruples the memory capacity to 64 TB. Even in the era of big data, that encompasses a lot of applications, at least those that don’t rely on Web-sized datasets.

Even with the lesser memory limits of the first generation UV, the supercomputer has worked its way into application niches across the data-intensive spectrum, primarily in technical computing, but a few on the business side as well. UV has had particular success in areas like life sciences and manufacturing, where the HPC cluster/MPI application paradigm never became fully entrenched. At lot of these applications had their origins on PCs or workstations, so the step up to a single system image UV was a natural one once those users exhausted RAM on the desktop.

The platform has also found application uptake in chemistry, physics (especially astrophysics), defense and intelligence, and research areas like social media analytics. Even business analytics applications like fraud detection are fair game. An example of the latter is a world-wide courier service that is employing a UV machine to detect fraudulent activity in real-time.

To crank up the performance and scalability on this second-generation machine, a lot of the UV parts had to be upgraded, starting with a new CPU. On that front, the UV 2 engineers opted for the latest Intel “Sandy Bridge” Xeon E5-4600 family chips, which replace the Nehalem EX and Westmere EX CPUs offered in the first UV. A fully loaded UV 2 rack with 64 CPUs can now deliver 11 peak teraflops, which is nearly twice the flops of the original Nehalem-based machine.

Conveniently, the Sandy Bridge processor provides an extra couple of address bits, which is what makes the 64 TB memory reach possible. (ScaleMP’s virtual SMP technology also enables a 64 TB memory reach, in this case on Sandy Bridge-based clusters, but does so without the performance benefit of a custom interconnect.) The new CPU also incorporates native support for PCIe Gen 3, basically doubling I/O bandwidth to storage and other external devices.

Speaking of which, UV is able to hook into multiple accelerators, both NVIDIA GPUs and Intel MIC, via a PCIe-based external chassis. Up to 8 GPUs and some unknown number of MIC coprocessors can be linked to a system in this way. At least one customer, the UK’s Computational Cosmology Consortium (COSMOS), is in line to get a MIC-accelerated UV 2.

Aside from the CPU, the other big UV 2 upgrade is NUMAlink 6, the next generation of SGI’s custom system interconnect. NUMAlink makes memory coherency across the UV blades possible; without this special chip, an E5-4600 system would max out at a mere 32 cores and 1.5 TB of memory. Besides adding support for the new E5 CPU, the interconnect also reduces the cabling requirements, while more than doubling the data rate of the previous generation NUMAlink 5, a pretty speedy interconnect in its own right.

“Even a nicely configured InfiniBand cluster really pales in comparison, in terms of system bandwidth that we can deliver,” says Jill Matzke, director of server marketing at SGI.

But according to her, it’s the improved memory capacity that is going to be the real draw here. “While the ability to scale more cores is interesting,” she says, “we think the ability to scale memory is going to be the most important driver for customer uptake and deployment of this technology.”

Product-wise UV 2 will be offered in two incarnations, the UV 20 and the UV 2000. The former is a 4-way rackmount server that tops out at 32 cores and 1.5 TB — the same upper limit you would find in standard server based on E5-4600 parts. The UV 2000 is the one that can scale all the way up.

Not that you need to buy thousands of cores and terabytes of RAM right off. UV 2000 customers can start with just 16 cores and 32 GB of memory and slip more blades into the enclosure as budget allows. With lower bin CPUs, that 16-core entry point system is just $30,000 and according to Matzke, the price increases more or less linearly as you fill the rack with additional CPUs and RAM. Once you get beyond a single rack, the cost of extra cabling and rack-top routers gets factored in.

But even just four racks can get you all the way to 64 terabytes, so there’s not a lot of hardware infrastructure involved. Remember this is not a machine built to max out flops. As with the original UV, the idea here is to offer a lots of shared memory in an affordable package — at least relative to “big iron mainframes. And while the UV may be more expensive than a flash-based system with a comparable memory footprint, SGI is claiming much better price-performance when data bandwidth and latency are taken into account.

If 64 TB of memory doesn’t quite do it for you, SGI lets you lash together multiple systems if you’re looking for a cluster of fat nodes. The maximum configuration in this case is 16K sockets and 8 petabytes of memory.

The UV 20 and UV 2000 are available for shipping now. And if you happen to be in Hamburg Germany next week, the technology will be on display in SGI’s booth at the International Supercomputer Conference.

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!

Infographic Highlights Career of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

December 5, 2016

Dr. Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was an early pioneer of computer science and one of the most famous women achievers in a field dominated by men. Read more…

By Staff

Ganthier, Turkel on the Dell EMC Road Ahead

December 5, 2016

Who is Dell EMC and why should you care? Glad you asked is Jim Ganthier’s quick response. Ganthier is SVP for validated solutions and high performance computing for the new (even bigger) technology giant Dell EMC following Dell’s acquisition of EMC in September. In this case, says Ganthier, the blending of the two companies is a 1+1 = 5 proposition. Not bad math if you can pull it off. Read more…

By John Russell

AWS Embraces FPGAs, ‘Elastic’ GPUs

December 2, 2016

A new instance type rolled out this week by Amazon Web Services is based on customizable field programmable gate arrays that promise to strike a balance between performance and cost as emerging workloads create requirements often unmet by general-purpose processors. Read more…

By George Leopold

AWS Launches Massive 100 Petabyte ‘Sneakernet’

December 1, 2016

Amazon Web Services now offers a way to move data into its cloud by the truckload. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Weekly Twitter Roundup (Dec. 1, 2016)

December 1, 2016

Here at HPCwire, we aim to keep the HPC community apprised of the most relevant and interesting news items that get tweeted throughout the week. Read more…

By Thomas Ayres

HPC Career Notes (Dec. 2016)

December 1, 2016

In this monthly feature, we’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest career developments for individuals in the high performance computing community. Read more…

By Thomas Ayres

Lighting up Aurora: Behind the Scenes at the Creation of the DOE’s Upcoming 200 Petaflops Supercomputer

December 1, 2016

In April 2015, U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary Franklin Orr announced that Intel would be the prime contractor for Aurora: Read more…

By Jan Rowell

IBM and NSF Computing Pioneer Erich Bloch Dies at 91

November 30, 2016

Erich Bloch, a computational pioneer whose competitive zeal and commercial bent helped transform the National Science Foundation while he was its director, died last Friday at age 91. Bloch was a productive force to be reckoned. During his long stint at IBM prior to joining NSF Bloch spearheaded development of the “Stretch” supercomputer and IBM’s phenomenally successful System/360. Read more…

By John Russell

Ganthier, Turkel on the Dell EMC Road Ahead

December 5, 2016

Who is Dell EMC and why should you care? Glad you asked is Jim Ganthier’s quick response. Ganthier is SVP for validated solutions and high performance computing for the new (even bigger) technology giant Dell EMC following Dell’s acquisition of EMC in September. In this case, says Ganthier, the blending of the two companies is a 1+1 = 5 proposition. Not bad math if you can pull it off. Read more…

By John Russell

AWS Launches Massive 100 Petabyte ‘Sneakernet’

December 1, 2016

Amazon Web Services now offers a way to move data into its cloud by the truckload. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Lighting up Aurora: Behind the Scenes at the Creation of the DOE’s Upcoming 200 Petaflops Supercomputer

December 1, 2016

In April 2015, U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary Franklin Orr announced that Intel would be the prime contractor for Aurora: Read more…

By Jan Rowell

Seagate-led SAGE Project Delivers Update on Exascale Goals

November 29, 2016

Roughly a year and a half after its launch, the SAGE exascale storage project led by Seagate has delivered a substantive interim report – Data Storage for Extreme Scale. Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Sees Bright Future for AI Supercomputing

November 23, 2016

Graphics chipmaker Nvidia made a strong showing at SC16 in Salt Lake City last week. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE-SGI to Tackle Exascale and Enterprise Targets

November 22, 2016

At first blush, and maybe second blush too, Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s (HPE) purchase of SGI seems like an unambiguous win-win. SGI’s advanced shared memory technology, its popular UV product line (Hanna), deep vertical market expertise, and services-led go-to-market capability all give HPE a leg up in its drive to remake itself. Bear in mind HPE came into existence just a year ago with the split of Hewlett-Packard. The computer landscape, including HPC, is shifting with still unclear consequences. One wonders who’s next on the deal block following Dell’s recent merger with EMC. Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Details AI Hardware Strategy for Post-GPU Age

November 21, 2016

Last week at SC16, Intel revealed its product roadmap for embedding its processors with key capabilities and attributes needed to take artificial intelligence (AI) to the next level. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

SC Says Farewell to Salt Lake City, See You in Denver

November 18, 2016

After an intense four-day flurry of activity (and a cold snap that brought some actual snow flurries), the SC16 show floor closed yesterday (Thursday) and the always-extensive technical program wound down today. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Why 2016 Is the Most Important Year in HPC in Over Two Decades

August 23, 2016

In 1994, two NASA employees connected 16 commodity workstations together using a standard Ethernet LAN and installed open-source message passing software that allowed their number-crunching scientific application to run on the whole “cluster” of machines as if it were a single entity. Read more…

By Vincent Natoli, Stone Ridge Technology

IBM Advances Against x86 with Power9

August 30, 2016

After offering OpenPower Summit attendees a limited preview in April, IBM is unveiling further details of its next-gen CPU, Power9, which the tech mainstay is counting on to regain market share ceded to rival Intel. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AWS Beats Azure to K80 General Availability

September 30, 2016

Amazon Web Services has seeded its cloud with Nvidia Tesla K80 GPUs to meet the growing demand for accelerated computing across an increasingly-diverse range of workloads. The P2 instance family is a welcome addition for compute- and data-focused users who were growing frustrated with the performance limitations of Amazon's G2 instances, which are backed by three-year-old Nvidia GRID K520 graphics cards. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Think Fast – Is Neuromorphic Computing Set to Leap Forward?

August 15, 2016

Steadily advancing neuromorphic computing technology has created high expectations for this fundamentally different approach to computing. Read more…

By John Russell

The Exascale Computing Project Awards $39.8M to 22 Projects

September 7, 2016

The Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project (ECP) hit an important milestone today with the announcement of its first round of funding, moving the nation closer to its goal of reaching capable exascale computing by 2023. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Gobbles SGI for Larger Slice of $11B HPC Pie

August 11, 2016

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) announced today that it will acquire rival HPC server maker SGI for $7.75 per share, or about $275 million, inclusive of cash and debt. The deal ends the seven-year reprieve that kept the SGI banner flying after Rackable Systems purchased the bankrupt Silicon Graphics Inc. for $25 million in 2009 and assumed the SGI brand. Bringing SGI into its fold bolsters HPE's high-performance computing and data analytics capabilities and expands its position... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ARM Unveils Scalable Vector Extension for HPC at Hot Chips

August 22, 2016

ARM and Fujitsu today announced a scalable vector extension (SVE) to the ARMv8-A architecture intended to enhance ARM capabilities in HPC workloads. Fujitsu is the lead silicon partner in the effort (so far) and will use ARM with SVE technology in its post K computer, Japan’s next flagship supercomputer planned for the 2020 timeframe. This is an important incremental step for ARM, which seeks to push more aggressively into mainstream and HPC server markets. Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Debuts Power8 Chip with NVLink and Three New Systems

September 8, 2016

Not long after revealing more details about its next-gen Power9 chip due in 2017, IBM today rolled out three new Power8-based Linux servers and a new version of its Power8 chip featuring Nvidia’s NVLink interconnect. Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

Vectors: How the Old Became New Again in Supercomputing

September 26, 2016

Vector instructions, once a powerful performance innovation of supercomputing in the 1970s and 1980s became an obsolete technology in the 1990s. But like the mythical phoenix bird, vector instructions have arisen from the ashes. Here is the history of a technology that went from new to old then back to new. Read more…

By Lynd Stringer

US, China Vie for Supercomputing Supremacy

November 14, 2016

The 48th edition of the TOP500 list is fresh off the presses and while there is no new number one system, as previously teased by China, there are a number of notable entrants from the US and around the world and significant trends to report on. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Silicon Photonics Chip, Previews Next-Gen Phi for AI

August 18, 2016

At the Intel Developer Forum, held in San Francisco this week, Intel Senior Vice President and General Manager Diane Bryant announced the launch of Intel's Silicon Photonics product line and teased a brand-new Phi product, codenamed "Knights Mill," aimed at machine learning workloads. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU Benchmarking: Haswell Versus POWER8

June 2, 2015

With OpenPOWER activity ramping up and IBM’s prominent role in the upcoming DOE machines Summit and Sierra, it’s a good time to look at how the IBM POWER CPU stacks up against the x86 Xeon Haswell CPU from Intel. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Beyond von Neumann, Neuromorphic Computing Steadily Advances

March 21, 2016

Neuromorphic computing – brain inspired computing – has long been a tantalizing goal. The human brain does with around 20 watts what supercomputers do with megawatts. And power consumption isn’t the only difference. Fundamentally, brains ‘think differently’ than the von Neumann architecture-based computers. While neuromorphic computing progress has been intriguing, it has still not proven very practical. Read more…

By John Russell

Dell EMC Engineers Strategy to Democratize HPC

September 29, 2016

The freshly minted Dell EMC division of Dell Technologies is on a mission to take HPC mainstream with a strategy that hinges on engineered solutions, beginning with a focus on three industry verticals: manufacturing, research and life sciences. "Unlike traditional HPC where everybody bought parts, assembled parts and ran the workloads and did iterative engineering, we want folks to focus on time to innovation and let us worry about the infrastructure," said Jim Ganthier, senior vice president, validated solutions organization at Dell EMC Converged Platforms Solution Division. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Container App ‘Singularity’ Eases Scientific Computing

October 20, 2016

HPC container platform Singularity is just six months out from its 1.0 release but already is making inroads across the HPC research landscape. It's in use at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), where Singularity founder Gregory Kurtzer has worked in the High Performance Computing Services (HPCS) group for 16 years. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Micron, Intel Prepare to Launch 3D XPoint Memory

August 16, 2016

Micron Technology used last week’s Flash Memory Summit to roll out its new line of 3D XPoint memory technology jointly developed with Intel while demonstrating the technology in solid-state drives. Micron claimed its Quantx line delivers PCI Express (PCIe) SSD performance with read latencies at less than 10 microseconds and writes at less than 20 microseconds. Read more…

By George Leopold

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