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!

HPC Startup Advances Auto-Parallelization’s Promise

January 23, 2017

The shift from single core to multicore hardware has made finding parallelism in codes more important than ever, but that hasn’t made the task of parallel programming any easier. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Answered Prayers for High Frequency Traders? Latency Cut to 20 Nanoseconds

January 23, 2017

“You can buy your way out of bandwidth problems. But latency is divine.”

This sentiment, from Intel Technical Computing Group CTO Mark Seager, seems as old as the Bible, a truth universally acknowledged. Read more…

By Doug Black

CMU’s Latest “Card Shark” – Libratus – is Beating the Poker Pros (Again)

January 20, 2017

It’s starting to look like Carnegie Mellon University has a gambling problem – can’t stay away from the poker table. Read more…

By John Russell

IDG to Be Bought by Chinese Investors; IDC to Spin Out HPC Group

January 19, 2017

US-based publishing and investment firm International Data Group, Inc. (IDG) will be acquired by a pair of Chinese investors, China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co., Ltd. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Enhancing Patient Care with Next-Generation Sequencing

In the ever-evolving world of life sciences, speed, accuracy, and savings are more important than ever. Today’s scientists and healthcare professionals are leveraging high-performance computing (HPC) solutions to solve the world’s greatest health problems and accelerate the diagnoses and treatment of a variety of medical conditions. Read more…

Weekly Twitter Roundup (Jan. 19, 2017)

January 19, 2017

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

France’s CEA and Japan’s RIKEN to Partner on ARM and Exascale

January 19, 2017

France’s CEA and Japan’s RIKEN institute announced a multi-faceted five-year collaboration to advance HPC generally and prepare for exascale computing. Among the particulars are efforts to: build out the ARM ecosystem; work on code development and code sharing on the existing and future platforms; share expertise in specific application areas (material and seismic sciences for example); improve techniques for using numerical simulation with big data; and expand HPC workforce training. It seems to be a very full agenda. Read more…

By Nishi Katsuya and John Russell

ARM Waving: Attention, Deployments, and Development

January 18, 2017

It’s been a heady two weeks for the ARM HPC advocacy camp. At this week’s Mont-Blanc Project meeting held at the Barcelona Supercomputer Center, Cray announced plans to build an ARM-based supercomputer in the U.K. while Mont-Blanc selected Cavium’s ThunderX2 ARM chip for its third phase of development. Last week, France’s CEA and Japan’s Riken announced a deep collaboration aimed largely at fostering the ARM ecosystem. This activity follows a busy 2016 when SoftBank acquired ARM, OpenHPC announced ARM support, ARM released its SVE spec, Fujistu chose ARM for the post K machine, and ARM acquired HPC tool provider Allinea in December. Read more…

By John Russell

Women Coders from Russia, Italy, and Poland Top Study

January 17, 2017

According to a study posted on HackerRank today the best women coders as judged by performance on HackerRank challenges come from Russia, Italy, and Poland. Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Startup Advances Auto-Parallelization’s Promise

January 23, 2017

The shift from single core to multicore hardware has made finding parallelism in codes more important than ever, but that hasn’t made the task of parallel programming any easier. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Answered Prayers for High Frequency Traders? Latency Cut to 20 Nanoseconds

January 23, 2017

“You can buy your way out of bandwidth problems. But latency is divine.”

This sentiment, from Intel Technical Computing Group CTO Mark Seager, seems as old as the Bible, a truth universally acknowledged. Read more…

By Doug Black

IDG to Be Bought by Chinese Investors; IDC to Spin Out HPC Group

January 19, 2017

US-based publishing and investment firm International Data Group, Inc. (IDG) will be acquired by a pair of Chinese investors, China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co., Ltd. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

France’s CEA and Japan’s RIKEN to Partner on ARM and Exascale

January 19, 2017

France’s CEA and Japan’s RIKEN institute announced a multi-faceted five-year collaboration to advance HPC generally and prepare for exascale computing. Among the particulars are efforts to: build out the ARM ecosystem; work on code development and code sharing on the existing and future platforms; share expertise in specific application areas (material and seismic sciences for example); improve techniques for using numerical simulation with big data; and expand HPC workforce training. It seems to be a very full agenda. Read more…

By Nishi Katsuya and John Russell

ARM Waving: Attention, Deployments, and Development

January 18, 2017

It’s been a heady two weeks for the ARM HPC advocacy camp. At this week’s Mont-Blanc Project meeting held at the Barcelona Supercomputer Center, Cray announced plans to build an ARM-based supercomputer in the U.K. while Mont-Blanc selected Cavium’s ThunderX2 ARM chip for its third phase of development. Last week, France’s CEA and Japan’s Riken announced a deep collaboration aimed largely at fostering the ARM ecosystem. This activity follows a busy 2016 when SoftBank acquired ARM, OpenHPC announced ARM support, ARM released its SVE spec, Fujistu chose ARM for the post K machine, and ARM acquired HPC tool provider Allinea in December. Read more…

By John Russell

Spurred by Global Ambitions, Inspur in Joint HPC Deal with DDN

January 17, 2017

Inspur, the fast-growth cloud computing and server vendor from China that has several systems on the current Top500 list, and DDN, a leader in high-end storage, have announced a joint sales and marketing agreement to produce solutions based on DDN storage platforms integrated with servers, networking, software and services from Inspur. Read more…

By Doug Black

For IBM/OpenPOWER: Success in 2017 = (Volume) Sales

January 11, 2017

To a large degree IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation have done what they said they would – assembling a substantial and growing ecosystem and bringing Power-based products to market, all in about three years. Read more…

By John Russell

UberCloud Cites Progress in HPC Cloud Computing

January 10, 2017

200 HPC cloud experiments, 80 case studies, and a ton of hands-on experience gained, that’s the harvest of four years of UberCloud HPC Experiments. Read more…

By Wolfgang Gentzsch and Burak Yenier

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

For IBM/OpenPOWER: Success in 2017 = (Volume) Sales

January 11, 2017

To a large degree IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation have done what they said they would – assembling a substantial and growing ecosystem and bringing Power-based products to market, all in about three years. Read more…

By John Russell

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

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

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

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

D-Wave SC16 Update: What’s Bo Ewald Saying These Days

November 18, 2016

Tucked in a back section of the SC16 exhibit hall, quantum computing pioneer D-Wave has been talking up its new 2000-qubit processor announced in September. Forget for a moment the criticism sometimes aimed at D-Wave. This small Canadian company has sold several machines including, for example, ones to Lockheed and NASA, and has worked with Google on mapping machine learning problems to quantum computing. In July Los Alamos National Laboratory took possession of a 1000-quibit D-Wave 2X system that LANL ordered a year ago around the time of SC15. Read more…

By John Russell

Enlisting Deep Learning in the War on Cancer

December 7, 2016

Sometime in Q2 2017 the first ‘results’ of the Joint Design of Advanced Computing Solutions for Cancer (JDACS4C) will become publicly available according to Rick Stevens. He leads one of three JDACS4C pilot projects pressing deep learning (DL) into service in the War on Cancer. Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

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

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

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

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

BioTeam’s Berman Charts 2017 HPC Trends in Life Sciences

January 4, 2017

Twenty years ago high performance computing was nearly absent from life sciences. Today it’s used throughout life sciences and biomedical research. Genomics and the data deluge from modern lab instruments are the main drivers, but so is the longer-term desire to perform predictive simulation in support of Precision Medicine (PM). There’s even a specialized life sciences supercomputer, ‘Anton’ from D.E. Shaw Research, and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is standing up its second Anton 2 and actively soliciting project proposals. There’s a lot going on. 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

Dell Knights Landing Machine Sets New STAC Records

November 2, 2016

The Securities Technology Analysis Center, commonly known as STAC, has released a new report characterizing the performance of the Knight Landing-based Dell PowerEdge C6320p server on the STAC-A2 benchmarking suite, widely used by the financial services industry to test and evaluate computing platforms. The Dell machine has set new records for both the baseline Greeks benchmark and the large Greeks benchmark. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

What Knights Landing Is Not

June 18, 2016

As we get ready to launch the newest member of the Intel Xeon Phi family, code named Knights Landing, it is natural that there be some questions and potentially some confusion. Read more…

By James Reinders, Intel

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