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!

At SC18: Humanitarianism Amid Boom Times for HPC

November 14, 2018

At SC18 in Dallas, the feeling on the ground is one of forward-looking buoyancy. Like boom times that cycle through the Texas oil fields, the HPC industry is enjoying a prosperity seen only every few decades, one driven Read more…

By Doug Black

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, produ Read more…

By John Russell

New Panasas High Performance Storage Straddles Commercial-Traditional HPC

November 13, 2018

High performance storage vendor Panasas has launched a new version of its ActiveStor product line this morning featuring what the company said is the industry’s first plug-and-play, portable parallel file system that d Read more…

By Doug Black

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

AI Can Be Scary. But Choosing the Wrong Partners Can Be Mortifying!

As you continue to dive deeper into AI, you will discover it is more than just deep learning. AI is an extremely complex set of machine learning, deep learning, reinforcement, and analytics algorithms with varying compute, storage, memory, and communications needs. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

New Data Management Techniques for Intelligent Simulations

The trend in high performance supercomputer design has evolved – from providing maximum compute capability for complex scalable science applications, to capacity computing utilizing efficient, cost-effective computing power for solving a small number of large problems or a large number of small problems. Read more…

SC18 Student Cluster Competition – Revealing the Field

November 13, 2018

It’s November again and we’re almost ready for the kick-off of one of the greatest computer sports events in the world – the SC Student Cluster Competition. This is the twelfth time that teams of university undergr Read more…

By Dan Olds

At SC18: Humanitarianism Amid Boom Times for HPC

November 14, 2018

At SC18 in Dallas, the feeling on the ground is one of forward-looking buoyancy. Like boom times that cycle through the Texas oil fields, the HPC industry is en Read more…

By Doug Black

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 Read more…

By John Russell

New Panasas High Performance Storage Straddles Commercial-Traditional HPC

November 13, 2018

High performance storage vendor Panasas has launched a new version of its ActiveStor product line this morning featuring what the company said is the industry Read more…

By Doug Black

SC18 Student Cluster Competition – Revealing the Field

November 13, 2018

It’s November again and we’re almost ready for the kick-off of one of the greatest computer sports events in the world – the SC Student Cluster Competitio Read more…

By Dan Olds

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

OpenACC Talks Up Summit and Community Momentum at SC18

November 12, 2018

OpenACC – the directives-based parallel programing model for optimizing applications on heterogeneous architectures – is showcasing user traction and HPC im Read more…

By John Russell

How ASCI Revolutionized the World of High-Performance Computing and Advanced Modeling and Simulation

November 9, 2018

The 1993 Supercomputing Conference was held in Portland, Oregon. That conference and it’s show floor provided a good snapshot of the uncertainty that U.S. supercomputing was facing in the early 1990s. Many of the companies exhibiting that year would soon be gone, either bankrupt or acquired by somebody else. Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

At SC18: GM, Boeing, Deere, BP Talk Enterprise HPC Strategies

November 9, 2018

SC18 in Dallas (Nov.11-16) will feature an impressive series of sessions focused on the enterprise HPC deployments at some of the largest industrial companies: Read more…

By Doug Black

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

TACC Wins Next NSF-funded Major Supercomputer

July 30, 2018

The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) has won the next NSF-funded big supercomputer beating out rivals including the National Center for Supercomputing Ap Read more…

By John Russell

IBM at Hot Chips: What’s Next for Power

August 23, 2018

With processor, memory and networking technologies all racing to fill in for an ailing Moore’s law, the era of the heterogeneous datacenter is well underway, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Requiem for a Phi: Knights Landing Discontinued

July 25, 2018

On Monday, Intel made public its end of life strategy for the Knights Landing "KNL" Phi product set. The announcement makes official what has already been wide Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

CERN Project Sees Orders-of-Magnitude Speedup with AI Approach

August 14, 2018

An award-winning effort at CERN has demonstrated potential to significantly change how the physics based modeling and simulation communities view machine learni Read more…

By Rob Farber

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

New Deep Learning Algorithm Solves Rubik’s Cube

July 25, 2018

Solving (and attempting to solve) Rubik’s Cube has delighted millions of puzzle lovers since 1974 when the cube was invented by Hungarian sculptor and archite Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

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

TACC’s ‘Frontera’ Supercomputer Expands Horizon for Extreme-Scale Science

August 29, 2018

The National Science Foundation and the Texas Advanced Computing Center announced today that a new system, called Frontera, will overtake Stampede 2 as the fast Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

Intel Announces Cooper Lake, Advances AI Strategy

August 9, 2018

Intel's chief datacenter exec Navin Shenoy kicked off the company's Data-Centric Innovation Summit Wednesday, the day-long program devoted to Intel's datacenter 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

MLPerf – Will New Machine Learning Benchmark Help Propel AI Forward?

May 2, 2018

Let the AI benchmarking wars begin. Today, a diverse group from academia and industry – Google, Baidu, Intel, AMD, Harvard, and Stanford among them – releas Read more…

By John Russell

Google Releases Machine Learning “What-If” Analysis Tool

September 12, 2018

Training machine learning models has long been time-consuming process. Yesterday, Google released a “What-If Tool” for probing how data point changes affect a model’s prediction. The new tool is being launched as a new feature of the open source TensorBoard web application... 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