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!

Fostering Lustre Advancement Through Development and Contributions

January 17, 2018

Six months after organizational changes at Intel's High Performance Data (HPDD) division, most in the Lustre community have shed any initial apprehension around the potential changes that could affect or disrupt Lustre Read more…

By Carlos Aoki Thomaz

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 received a patent for a "processor design, which allows rep Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SRC Spends $200M on University Research Centers

January 16, 2018

The Semiconductor Research Corporation, as part of its JUMP initiative, has awarded $200 million to fund six research centers whose areas of focus span cognitive computing, memory-centric computing, high-speed communicat Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE and NREL Take Steps to Create a Sustainable, Energy-Efficient Data Center with an H2 Fuel Cell

As enterprises attempt to manage rising volumes of data, unplanned data center outages are becoming more common and more expensive. As the cost of downtime rises, enterprises lose out on productivity and valuable competitive advantage without access to their critical data. Read more…

US Seeks to Automate Video Analysis

January 16, 2018

U.S. military and intelligence agencies continue to look for new ways to use artificial intelligence to sift through huge amounts of video imagery in hopes of freeing analysts to identify threats and otherwise put their Read more…

By George Leopold

Fostering Lustre Advancement Through Development and Contributions

January 17, 2018

Six months after organizational changes at Intel's High Performance Data (HPDD) division, most in the Lustre community have shed any initial apprehension aroun Read more…

By Carlos Aoki Thomaz

SRC Spends $200M on University Research Centers

January 16, 2018

The Semiconductor Research Corporation, as part of its JUMP initiative, has awarded $200 million to fund six research centers whose areas of focus span cognitiv Read more…

By John Russell

When the Chips Are Down

January 11, 2018

In the last article, "The High Stakes Semiconductor Game that Drives HPC Diversity," I alluded to the challenges facing the semiconductor industry and how that may impact the evolution of HPC systems over the next few years. I thought I’d lift the covers a little and look at some of the commercial challenges that impact the component technology we use in HPC. Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

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

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

ANL’s Rick Stevens on CANDLE, ARM, Quantum, and More

January 8, 2018

Late last year HPCwire caught up with Rick Stevens, associate laboratory director for computing, environment and life Sciences at Argonne National Laboratory, f Read more…

By John Russell

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

The @hpcnotes Predictions for HPC in 2018

January 4, 2018

I’m not averse to making predictions about the world of High Performance Computing (and Supercomputing, Cloud, etc.) in person at conferences, meetings, causa Read more…

By Andrew Jones

US Coalesces Plans for First Exascale Supercomputer: Aurora in 2021

September 27, 2017

At the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) meeting, in Arlington, Va., yesterday (Sept. 26), it was revealed that the "Aurora" supercompute Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Japan Unveils Quantum Neural Network

November 22, 2017

The U.S. and China are leading the race toward productive quantum computing, but it's early enough that ultimate leadership is still something of an open questi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Showcases Growing Portfolio of EPYC and Radeon-based Systems at SC17

November 13, 2017

AMD’s charge back into HPC and the datacenter is on full display at SC17. Having launched the EPYC processor line in June along with its MI25 GPU the focus he Read more…

By John Russell

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

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit a 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

GlobalFoundries Puts Wind in AMD’s Sails with 12nm FinFET

September 24, 2017

From its annual tech conference last week (Sept. 20), where GlobalFoundries welcomed more than 600 semiconductor professionals (reaching the Santa Clara venue Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

Leading Solution Providers

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshops and other technical sessions will be inundated with requests for feedback. Read more…

By Andrew Jones

Tensors Come of Age: Why the AI Revolution Will Help HPC

November 13, 2017

Thirty years ago, parallel computing was coming of age. A bitter battle began between stalwart vector computing supporters and advocates of various approaches to parallel computing. IBM skeptic Alan Karp, reacting to announcements of nCUBE’s 1024-microprocessor system and Thinking Machines’ 65,536-element array, made a public $100 wager that no one could get a parallel speedup of over 200 on real HPC workloads. Read more…

By John Gustafson & Lenore Mullin

Delays, Smoke, Records & Markets – A Candid Conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro

October 5, 2017

Earlier this month, Tom Tabor, publisher of HPCwire and I had a very personal conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro. Cray has been on something of a Cinderell Read more…

By Tiffany Trader & Tom Tabor

Flipping the Flops and Reading the Top500 Tea Leaves

November 13, 2017

The 50th edition of the Top500 list, the biannual publication of the world’s fastest supercomputers based on public Linpack benchmarking results, was released Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

GlobalFoundries, Ayar Labs Team Up to Commercialize Optical I/O

December 4, 2017

GlobalFoundries (GF) and Ayar Labs, a startup focused on using light, instead of electricity, to transfer data between chips, today announced they've entered in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Chips – A Veritable Smorgasbord?

October 10, 2017

For the first time since AMD's ill-fated launch of Bulldozer the answer to the question, 'Which CPU will be in my next HPC system?' doesn't have to be 'Whichever variety of Intel Xeon E5 they are selling when we procure'. Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

Nvidia, Partners Announce Several V100 Servers

September 27, 2017

Here come the Volta 100-based servers. Nvidia today announced an impressive line-up of servers from major partners – Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM 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

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