NVIDIA Scores Green Victory with Italian Supercomputer

By Nicole Hemsoth

February 5, 2013

There must have been a few companies that were a bit put off by the announcement of the Beacon computer as the Green500 champ last November. Everyone, that is, except Intel Corp.

Beacon, developed by the National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS) at the University of Tennessee, started out as a research project to port software code to small clusters of Intel Many Integrated Core (MIC3) chips. When the group started working with the MICs, now better known as the Xeon Phi processor line, it found some compelling energy-saving possibilities. The NICS group decided to use the technology to create a small HPC cluster.

On Friday Eurotech and NVIDIA announced a new HPC system, called Eurora, that the companies say beats Beacon’s energy efficiency by 26% – using NVIDIA GPUs instead of Intel Xeons, of course. With Eurora pumping out 3.15 gigaflops per watt versus Beacon’s 2.49 gigaflops per watt, NVIDIA executives are happy that they can now claim the most energy-efficient HPC system uses their GPUs.

The most powerful supercomputer in the world, the Titan system at Oak Ridge National Lab, uses the same K20 GPUs as Eurora. Titan, however, finished third on the Green500 list. Eurora is NVIDIA’s chance to take the title back from Intel.

Even with the advent of multicore CPUs, accelerators seem to be critical to creating today’s most efficient HPC systems. NVIDIA technology, in particular, has made its presence felt on recent Green500 lists. “GPUs have been the biggest innovation in energy efficiency in the last five years,” says Sumit Gupta, NVIDIA’s general manager for Tesla GPU Accelerated Computing.

Eurora’s efficiency was not just about GPUs, though. Everything about the system was created with the intention of optimizing power draw. The machine is part of Eurotech’s latest Aurora Tigon line of HPC systems. Aurora was designed to decrease energy cost by using Eurotech’s custom-built hot-water cooling system, enabling a datacenter PUE as low as 1.05.

To create Eurora, Eurotech replaced older generation NVIDIA GPUs in its previous Aurora systems with the latest Tesla K20 processors. NVIDIA’s K20 Kepler generation GPU for the HPC market was also designed specifically to increase FLOPS per watt.

Next >>

The Eurora system was delivered to Cineca, an Italian non-profit consortium of universities and a member of the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE). Cineca provides access to HPC systems for research institutions across Europe and prides itself as usually having one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. Now, it seems, it can add energy efficiency to its boast. It’s an important consideration in Europe, where energy prices tend to be much higher than those in the U.S., and where governments are increasingly demanding green technology.

Still, Eurora is essentially a prototype upon which to build. NVIDIA says it shipped a special version of its GPU to Eurotech. And Eurora, with a Linpack rating of 110 teraflops, is a small system compared to Titan at 17 petaflops. That makes the Oak Ridge machine 150 times more powerful than Cineca’s.

NVIDIA’s Gupta says it’s not really fair to compare the reported energy efficiency for Beacon with that of other systems like Titan and Eurora. “Beacon was measured only for the Green500,” he points out. “You can always create the ideal situation for that. Cineca is doing what they would do in production. Cineca is government funded and has regulations. They have to be mindful of the data they report.”

Gupta notes that paradoxically, the energy-efficiency gains in HPC have been driven in large part by consumer products, not the need to cut energy costs for supercomputers or datacenters. The GPUs built to run electronic game graphics have to get by on as little energy as possible because of short battery life. Those same GPUs then started going into HPC systems, both to boost performance and to cut down on energy use.

NVIDIA’s Kepler generation, released a couple years ago for the gaming market, is the processor that was really designed to reduce energy consumption as much as possible. The company streamlined the design by eliminating a lot of registers and logic that were not really needed, and increased the number of cores dramatically. With more cores working, the company could cut the clock speed of the processors by almost half. “Frequency has a bigger impact on power efficiency” than almost any other change one can make, says Gupta. “The simple trick is to increase the number of cores and decrease the frequency.”

Still, Eurora is noticeably more energy efficient than the Titan, which uses the same generation of NVIDIA GPUs. So why the difference? A lot of it is due to Eurotech’s on-board cooling system. That system delivers 50 degree C water to a heat exchanger – flat metal plates with water-flow systems attached. The plates sit directly in contact with the components on a circuit board to uniformly draw away heat. That’s why NVIDIA had to provide a special version of its GPUs to Eurotech. They don’t have the usual heat sinks attached, but accommodate a plate instead.

Still, given the efficiency of Beacon, there will be an ongoing contest between NVIDIA’s GPUs and Intel’s Xeon Phi coprocessors for the best performance per watt. The Intel Phi processors are not yet shipping beyond a few test systems such as Beacon, but will be more generally available within a few months. As these technologies move beyond their testing stages and into real production systems, supercomputers and datacenters should see real benefits.

And, of course everyone will be watching to see whose accelerators show up on top of the next Green500 list.

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!

IBM Quantum Update: Q System One Launch, New Collaborators, and QC Center Plans

January 10, 2019

IBM made three significant quantum computing announcements at CES this week. One was introduction of IBM Q System One; it’s really the integration of IBM’s existing 20-quibit platform into a more robust, self-contain Read more…

By John Russell

Intel at CES: Nervana; 10nm Server CPU; Cascade Lake

January 9, 2019

On the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, Intel staged a launch event that covered a new version of its Nervana AI processor and a demonstration of the next-generation Xeon 10nm chip. The Read more…

By Staff

IBM’s New Global Weather Forecasting System Runs on GPUs

January 9, 2019

Anyone who has checked a forecast to decide whether or not to pack an umbrella knows that weather prediction can be a mercurial endeavor. It is a Herculean task: the constant modeling of incredibly complex systems to a high degree of accuracy at a local level within very short spans of time. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE Systems With Intel Omni-Path: Architected for Value and Accessible High-Performance Computing

Today’s high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) users value high performing clusters. And the higher the performance that their system can deliver, the better. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Data: The Key To Unlocking Modern Research

Research tackles the big questions, delving into uncharted territory in pursuit of knowledge that could change the world. Today’s research simulations are generating more data than ever before, a trend that shows no signs of slowing. Read more…

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.” This maxim Read more…

By Ben Criger

IBM Quantum Update: Q System One Launch, New Collaborators, and QC Center Plans

January 10, 2019

IBM made three significant quantum computing announcements at CES this week. One was introduction of IBM Q System One; it’s really the integration of IBM’s Read more…

By John Russell

IBM’s New Global Weather Forecasting System Runs on GPUs

January 9, 2019

Anyone who has checked a forecast to decide whether or not to pack an umbrella knows that weather prediction can be a mercurial endeavor. It is a Herculean task: the constant modeling of incredibly complex systems to a high degree of accuracy at a local level within very short spans of time. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

The Deep500 – Researchers Tackle an HPC Benchmark for Deep Learning

January 7, 2019

How do you know if an HPC system, particularly a larger-scale system, is well-suited for deep learning workloads? Today, that’s not an easy question to answer Read more…

By John Russell

HPCwire Awards Highlight Supercomputing Achievements in the Sciences

January 3, 2019

In November at SC18 in Dallas, HPCwire Readers’ and Editors’ Choice awards program commemorated its 15th year of honoring achievement in HPC, with categories ranging from Best Use of AI to the Workforce Diversity Leadership Award and recipients across a wide variety of industrial and research sectors. Read more…

By the Editorial Team

White House Top Science Post Filled After Two-Year Vacancy

January 3, 2019

Half-way into Trump's term, the Senate has confirmed a director for the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the agency that coordinates science poli Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Batswana Gems

December 20, 2018

Most who work in the high-performance computing (HPC) industry agree; people problems are far more complicated than technical challenges. As I wrote in a 2015 HPCwire feature titled, “Women in HPC: Revelations and Reckoning,” diversity, or the lack thereof, is the HPC industry’s current grand challenge. Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake

HPC Reflections and (Mostly Hopeful) Predictions

December 19, 2018

So much ‘spaghetti’ gets tossed on walls by the technology community (vendors and researchers) to see what sticks that it is often difficult to peer through Read more…

By John Russell

Quantum Computing Will Never Work

November 27, 2018

Amid the gush of money and enthusiastic predictions being thrown at quantum computing comes a proposed cold shower in the form of an essay by physicist Mikhail Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Unveils Shasta, Lands NERSC-9 Contract

October 30, 2018

Cray revealed today the details of its next-gen supercomputing architecture, Shasta, selected to be the next flagship system at NERSC. We've known of the code-name "Shasta" since the Argonne slice of the CORAL project was announced in 2015 and although the details of that plan have changed considerably, Cray didn't slow down its timeline for Shasta. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

House Passes $1.275B National Quantum Initiative

September 17, 2018

Last Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Quantum Initiative Act (NQIA) intended to accelerate quantum computing research and developm Read more…

By John Russell

AMD Sets Up for Epyc Epoch

November 16, 2018

It’s been a good two weeks, AMD’s Gary Silcott and Andy Parma told me on the last day of SC18 in Dallas at the restaurant where we met to discuss their show news and recent successes. Heck, it’s been a good year. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Leads Supercomputing with #1, #2 Systems & Petascale Arm

November 12, 2018

The 31st Supercomputing Conference (SC) - commemorating 30 years since the first Supercomputing in 1988 - kicked off in Dallas yesterday, taking over the Kay Ba Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Contract Signed for New Finnish Supercomputer

December 13, 2018

After the official contract signing yesterday, configuration details were made public for the new BullSequana system that the Finnish IT Center for Science (CSC Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

Leading Solution Providers

SC 18 Virtual Booth Video Tour

Advania @ SC18 AMD @ SC18
ASRock Rack @ SC18
DDN Storage @ SC18
HPE @ SC18
IBM @ SC18
Lenovo @ SC18 Mellanox Technologies @ SC18
NVIDIA @ SC18
One Stop Systems @ SC18
Oracle @ SC18 Panasas @ SC18
Supermicro @ SC18 SUSE @ SC18 TYAN @ SC18
Verne Global @ SC18

Nvidia’s Jensen Huang Delivers Vision for the New HPC

November 14, 2018

For nearly two hours on Monday at SC18, Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, presented his expansive view of the future of HPC (and computing in general) as only he can do. Animated. Backstopped by a stream of data charts, product photos, and even a beautiful image of supernovae... Read more…

By John Russell

HPE No. 1, IBM Surges, in ‘Bucking Bronco’ High Performance Server Market

September 27, 2018

Riding healthy U.S. and global economies, strong demand for AI-capable hardware and other tailwind trends, the high performance computing server market jumped 28 percent in the second quarter 2018 to $3.7 billion, up from $2.9 billion for the same period last year, according to industry analyst firm Hyperion Research. Read more…

By Doug Black

HPC Reflections and (Mostly Hopeful) Predictions

December 19, 2018

So much ‘spaghetti’ gets tossed on walls by the technology community (vendors and researchers) to see what sticks that it is often difficult to peer through Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Confirms 48-Core Cascade Lake-AP for 2019

November 4, 2018

As part of the run-up to SC18, taking place in Dallas next week (Nov. 11-16), Intel is doling out info on its next-gen Cascade Lake family of Xeon processors, specifically the “Advanced Processor” version (Cascade Lake-AP), architected for high-performance computing, artificial intelligence and infrastructure-as-a-service workloads. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Germany Celebrates Launch of Two Fastest Supercomputers

September 26, 2018

The new high-performance computer SuperMUC-NG at the Leibniz Supercomputing Center (LRZ) in Garching is the fastest computer in Germany and one of the fastest i Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Houston to Field Massive, ‘Geophysically Configured’ Cloud Supercomputer

October 11, 2018

Based on some news stories out today, one might get the impression that the next system to crack number one on the Top500 would be an industrial oil and gas mon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Microsoft to Buy Mellanox?

December 20, 2018

Networking equipment powerhouse Mellanox could be an acquisition target by Microsoft, according to a published report in an Israeli financial publication. Microsoft has reportedly gone so far as to engage Goldman Sachs to handle negotiations with Mellanox. Read more…

By Doug Black

The Deep500 – Researchers Tackle an HPC Benchmark for Deep Learning

January 7, 2019

How do you know if an HPC system, particularly a larger-scale system, is well-suited for deep learning workloads? Today, that’s not an easy question to answer Read more…

By John Russell

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