DOE to Field Pre-Exascale Supercomputers Within Four Years

By Michael Feldman

January 16, 2013

The national labs at Oak Ridge (ORNL), Argonne (ANL) and Lawrence Livermore (LLNL) are banding together for their next refresh of supercomputers. In late 2016 or early 2017, all three Department of Energy (DOE) centers are looking to deploy their first 100-plus petaflop systems, which will serve as precursors to their exascale machine further down the line. The labs will issue a request for proposal (RFP) later this year with the goal of awarding the work to two prime subcontractors.

The trio of lab partners, known as CORAL (Collaboration Oak Ridge Argonne Livermore), sent out a Request for Information (RFI) in December 2012 to gather information for the upcoming RFP. It’s possible three separate RFPs will be issued, corresponding to systems hosted at each lab, but according to the RFI addendum, the DOE is “strongly considering” wrapping the multiple acquisitions under a single RFP.

The CORAL partnership between ORNL, ANL and LLNL to secure these pre-exascale machines mirrors the approach of their DOE siblings, NERSC, Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs to acquire their next round of supercomputers. In the latter case, those centers are teaming up to deploy two new machines (NERSC-8 and Trinity) before the end of 2015, about a year ahead of their CORAL counterparts. Because of the time difference and the somewhat different user bases, NERSC-8 and Trinity are almost certainly going to be sub-100-petaflop systems.

The CORAL supercomputers are initially spec’d at 100 to 300 petaflops, along with 5 to 10 petabytes of memory and 70 to 150 PB of storage. “The expectation is that the proposed 2016-2017 system will be roughly an order of magnitude less in time-to-solution than today’s systems at our facilities,” states the RFI. If everything goes as planned, that means the top supercomputer at ORNL in four years will be about 10 times as powerful its current top machine, Titan, which currently delivers 24 peak petaflops and holds title to the most powerful computer on the planet.

Of course, the labs’ focus on “time to solution” is centered around the traditional DOE application domains DOE like molecular dynamics, cosmology, CFD combustion, and others that map to the agency’s Office of Science and NNSA missions. Since these are all Fortran and C/C++ codes, which employ mostly MPI and OpenMP to extract parallelism, the new platforms must be designed to support both legacy codes as well as any future frameworks for exascale computing.

Although the CORAL lab acquisitions have been combined, two distinct solutions will be chosen. One of them will be delivered as separate systems to both ORNL and ANL, while LLNL will choose one of two solutions for its own use. Theoretically that could mean that all three labs could deploy the same machine, but since the feds likes to spread the supercomputing love around, it most likely means two system vendors will get the opportunity to deliver these pre-exascale machines.

More than likely, we’re talking about IBM and Cray as the primes here, although SGI could also make a reasonable case for a leading-edge supercomputer. None of these vendors have revealed platforms topping 100 petaflops yet. Cray’s latest supercomputer, the XC30 maxes out at 100 petaflops, and even at that level of performance, would rely on GPUs or Intel coprocessors that are still under development. IBM is no doubt working on its successor to Blue Gene/Q. But whether Big Blue’s exascale roadmap continues to follow that architecture, incorporates their Power server technology, or comes up with something entirely novel, remains to be seen.

To help foster some of this development, part of the CORAL effort will be to fund non-recurring engineering (NRE) costs associated with these pre-exascale supercomputers. The intent is to pour up to $100 million into these NRE activities, the money to be split between the two prime subcontractors. Some of this could certainly filter down to processor vendors, memory makers, and interconnect providers as well.

It’s up to the bidding vendors to impress the labs on how best to apply the NRE funding, for example, better programmability, improving memory performance, adding embedded network controllers, maximizing data transfers between heterogeneous components, developing more efficient power management, and so on. Alternatively, the NRE could be directed at accelerating schedules, improving system cost, or TCO. The idea is to fund technologies or processes that the IT market would not be expected to deliver naturally.

Both the CORAL and NERSC-8/Trinity efforts are very much in the tradition of the “swim lanes” procurement approach — encouraging the development of competing supercomputing architectures by various labs and vendors. The DOE has simplified the process somewhat by splitting the six leading centers into two teams, each of which will seed money into exascale research via their preferred choice of industry players.

Since these systems will pave the way for exascale technologies, there’s a lot at stake here for the vendors. This isn’t, however, just restricted to a few elite machines for a handful of labs. Petascale supercomputers will become increasingly commonplace during the second half of this decade, and they will be based on many of the same technologies that will drive exascale systems. Those companies tapped by the DOE to develop these next-generation supercomputers will be in a prime position to build not just the first exaflop-capable platforms, but also a whole array of HPC products for a much wider market.

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!

San Diego Supercomputer Center to Welcome ‘Expanse’ Supercomputer in 2020

July 18, 2019

With a $10 million dollar award from the National Science Foundation, San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California San Diego is procuring a new supercomputer, called Expanse, to be deployed next Read more…

By Staff report

Informing Designs of Safer, More Efficient Aircraft with Exascale Computing

July 18, 2019

During the process of designing an aircraft, aeronautical engineers must perform predictive simulations to understand how airflow around the plane impacts flight characteristics. However, modeling the complexities and su Read more…

By Rob Johnson

How Fast is Your Rubik Solver; This One’s Probably Faster

July 18, 2019

In the race to solve Rubik’s Cube, the time-to-finish keeps shrinking. This year Philipp Weyer from Germany won the 10th World Cube Association (WCA) Championship held in Melbourne, Australia, with a 6.74-second perfo Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Bring the Combined Power of HPC and AI to Your Business Transformation

A growing number of commercial businesses are implementing HPC solutions to derive actionable business insights, to run higher performance applications and to gain a competitive advantage. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Smarter Technology Revs Up Red Bull Racing

In 21st century business, companies that effectively leverage their information resources – thrive. As it turns out, the same is true in Formula One racing. Read more…

Intel Debuts Pohoiki Beach, Its 8M Neuron Neuromorphic Development System

July 17, 2019

Neuromorphic computing has received less fanfare of late than quantum computing whose mystery has captured public attention and which seems to have generated more efforts (academic, government, and commercial) but whose Read more…

By John Russell

Informing Designs of Safer, More Efficient Aircraft with Exascale Computing

July 18, 2019

During the process of designing an aircraft, aeronautical engineers must perform predictive simulations to understand how airflow around the plane impacts fligh Read more…

By Rob Johnson

Intel Debuts Pohoiki Beach, Its 8M Neuron Neuromorphic Development System

July 17, 2019

Neuromorphic computing has received less fanfare of late than quantum computing whose mystery has captured public attention and which seems to have generated mo Read more…

By John Russell

Goonhilly Unveils New Immersion-Cooled Platform, Doubles Down on Sustainability Mission

July 16, 2019

Goonhilly Earth Station has opened its new datacenter – an enhancement to its existing tier 3 facility – in Cornwall, England, touting an ambitious commitme Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

ISC19 Cluster Competition: Application Results, Finally!

July 15, 2019

Our exhaustive coverage of the ISC19 Student Cluster Competition continues as we discuss the application scores below. While the scores were typically high, som Read more…

By Dan Olds

Nvidia Expands DGX-Ready AI Program to 19 Countries

July 11, 2019

Nvidia’s DGX-Ready Data Center Program, announced in January and designed to provide colo and public cloud-like options to access the company’s GPU-powered Read more…

By Doug Black

Argonne Team Makes Record Globus File Transfer

July 10, 2019

A team of scientists at Argonne National Laboratory has broken a data transfer record by moving a staggering 2.9 petabytes of data for a research project.  The data – from three large cosmological simulations – was generated and stored on the Summit supercomputer at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF)... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Nvidia, Google Tie in Second MLPerf Training ‘At-Scale’ Round

July 10, 2019

Results for the second round of the AI benchmarking suite known as MLPerf were published today with Google Cloud and Nvidia each picking up three wins in the at Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Applied Materials Embedding New Memory Technologies in Chips

July 9, 2019

Applied Materials, the $17 billion Santa Clara-based materials engineering company for the semiconductor industry, today announced manufacturing systems enablin Read more…

By Doug Black

High Performance (Potato) Chips

May 5, 2006

In this article, we focus on how Procter & Gamble is using high performance computing to create some common, everyday supermarket products. Tom Lange, a 27-year veteran of the company, tells us how P&G models products, processes and production systems for the betterment of consumer package goods. Read more…

By Michael Feldman

Cray, AMD to Extend DOE’s Exascale Frontier

May 7, 2019

Cray and AMD are coming back to Oak Ridge National Laboratory to partner on the world’s largest and most expensive supercomputer. The Department of Energy’s Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Graphene Surprises Again, This Time for Quantum Computing

May 8, 2019

Graphene is fascinating stuff with promise for use in a seeming endless number of applications. This month researchers from the University of Vienna and Institu Read more…

By John Russell

AMD Verifies Its Largest 7nm Chip Design in Ten Hours

June 5, 2019

AMD announced last week that its engineers had successfully executed the first physical verification of its largest 7nm chip design – in just ten hours. The AMD Radeon Instinct Vega20 – which boasts 13.2 billion transistors – was tested using a TSMC-certified Calibre nmDRC software platform from Mentor. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

TSMC and Samsung Moving to 5nm; Whither Moore’s Law?

June 12, 2019

With reports that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TMSC) and Samsung are moving quickly to 5nm manufacturing, it’s a good time to again ponder whither goes the venerable Moore’s law. Shrinking feature size has of course been the primary hallmark of achieving Moore’s law... Read more…

By John Russell

Deep Learning Competitors Stalk Nvidia

May 14, 2019

There is no shortage of processing architectures emerging to accelerate deep learning workloads, with two more options emerging this week to challenge GPU leader Nvidia. First, Intel researchers claimed a new deep learning record for image classification on the ResNet-50 convolutional neural network. Separately, Israeli AI chip startup Hailo.ai... Read more…

By George Leopold

Nvidia Embraces Arm, Declares Intent to Accelerate All CPU Architectures

June 17, 2019

As the Top500 list was being announced at ISC in Frankfurt today with an upgraded petascale Arm supercomputer in the top third of the list, Nvidia announced its Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Top500 Purely Petaflops; US Maintains Performance Lead

June 17, 2019

With the kick-off of the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Frankfurt this morning, the 53rd Top500 list made its debut, and this one's for petafl Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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 Launches Cascade Lake Xeons with Up to 56 Cores

April 2, 2019

At Intel's Data-Centric Innovation Day in San Francisco (April 2), the company unveiled its second-generation Xeon Scalable (Cascade Lake) family and debuted it Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray – and the Cray Brand – to Be Positioned at Tip of HPE’s HPC Spear

May 22, 2019

More so than with most acquisitions of this kind, HPE’s purchase of Cray for $1.3 billion, announced last week, seems to have elements of that overused, often Read more…

By Doug Black and Tiffany Trader

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Hardware That Powered the Black Hole Image

June 24, 2019

Two months ago, the first-ever image of a black hole took the internet by storm. A team of scientists took years to produce and verify the striking image – an Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Announcing four new HPC capabilities in Google Cloud Platform

April 15, 2019

When you’re running compute-bound or memory-bound applications for high performance computing or large, data-dependent machine learning training workloads on Read more…

By Wyatt Gorman, HPC Specialist, Google Cloud; Brad Calder, VP of Engineering, Google Cloud; Bart Sano, VP of Platforms, Google Cloud

Chinese Company Sugon Placed on US ‘Entity List’ After Strong Showing at International Supercomputing Conference

June 26, 2019

After more than a decade of advancing its supercomputing prowess, operating the world’s most powerful supercomputer from June 2013 to June 2018, China is keep 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

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

In Wake of Nvidia-Mellanox: Xilinx to Acquire Solarflare

April 25, 2019

With echoes of Nvidia’s recent acquisition of Mellanox, FPGA maker Xilinx has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Solarflare Communications, provider Read more…

By Doug Black

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