A Sneak Peek at the Next-Gen Exascale Operating System

By Nicole Hemsoth

July 31, 2013

There are several scattered pieces in the exascale software stack being developed and clicked together worldwide. Central to that jigsaw effort is the eventual operating system to power such machines. 

This week the Department of Energy snapped in a $9.75 million investment to help round out the picture of what such as OS will look like. The grant went to Argonne National Lab for a multi-institutional project (including Pacific Northwest and Lawrence Livermore labs, as well as other universities) aimed at developing a prototype exascale operating system and associated runtime software. 

To better understand“Argo”, the exascale OS effort, we spoke with Pete Beckman, Director of the Exascale Technology and Computing Institute and chief architect of the Argo project. Beckman says that as we look forward to the features of these ultra-scale machines, power management, massive concurrency and heterogeneity, as well as overall resiliency, can all be addressed at the OS level. 

These are not unfamiliar concerns, but attacking them at the operating system lends certain benefits, argues Beckman. For instance, fine-tuning power control and management at the core operational and workload level becomes possible with a pared-down, purpose-built and HPC-optimized OS. 

Outside of power, the team describes the “allowance for massive concurrency, [met by] a hierarchical framework for power and fault management, as well as a “beacon” mechanism that allows resource managers and optimizers to communicate and control the platform.

Beckman and team describe this hierarchy as an “enclave”–in this model the OS is more hierarchical in nature than we traditionally think of it as. In other words, it’s easy to think of a node-level OS–with Argo, there is a global OS that runs across the machine. This, combined with the platform-neutral design of Argo, will make it flexible enough to change with architectures and manageable at both a system and workload level–all packaged in familiar Linux wrappings. 

As shown above, these “enclaves,” are defined as a set of resources dedicated to a particular service, and capable of introspection and autonomic response. As Argonne describes, “They can shape-shift the system configuration of nodes and the allocation of power to different nodes or to migrate data or computations from one node to another.” On the reliability front, the enclaves that tackle failure can do so “by means of global restart and other enclaves supporting finer-level recovery.”

The recognizable Linux core of Argo will have been enhanced and modified to meet the needs of more dynamic, next-gen applications. While development on those prototype applications are ongoing, Beckman and the distributed team plan to test Argo’s ability to dive into a host of common HPC applications. Again, all of this will be Linux-flavored, but with an HPC shell that narrows the focus on the problems at hand.

As a side note, leveraging the positive elements of Linux and building into it a robustness and eye on taking on critical power management, concurrency and resiliency features seems like a good idea. If the trend holds, Linux itself will continue to enjoy the lion’s share (by far–96% according to reporting from yesterday) of the OS market on the Top500. 

It’s more about refining the role of Linux versus rebuilding it, Beckman explains. While Linux currently is tasked with managing a multi-user, multi-program balancing act with its resources, doling them out fairly, the Argo approach would hone in on the parts of code that need to blaze–wicking away some of the resource balancing functions. “We can rewrite some of those pieces and design runtime systems that are specifically adapted to run those bits of code fast and not try to deal with the balancing of many users ad many programs.”

The idea is to have part of the chip be capable of running the Linux kernel for the basics; things like control systems, booting, command and interface functions, debugging and the like–but as Beckman says, “for the HPC part, we can specialize and have a special component that lives in the chip.”

In that case, there are some middleware pieces that are hidden inside Argo. Beckman said that that software will move closer to the OS. And just as that happens, more software will be tied to the chips–whatever those happen to look like in the far-flung future (let’s say 2020 to be fair). This is all Argonne’s domain–they’ve been one of the leading labs that have worked on the marriage between processor and file systems, runtimes, message passing and other software workings. Beckman expects a merging between many lines–middleware and OS, and of course, both of those with the processor.

“Bringing together these multiple views and the corresponding software components through a whole-system approach distinguishes our strategy from existing designs,” said Beckman. “We believe it is essential for addressing the key exascale challenges of power, parallelism, memory hierarchy, and resilience.” 

As of now, numerous groups are working on various pieces of the power puzzle in particular. This is an especially important issue going forward. Although power consumption has always been a concern, Beckman says that the approach now is to optimize systems in advance, “turn the power on, and accept that they will draw what they’re going to draw.” In addition to the other work being done inside the stack to create efficient supers, there is a role for the operating system to play  in orchestrating “smart” use of power for certain parts of the computation or parts of the machine. 

Related Articles

Linux Foundation Looks at Unix to Linux Seachange in Top500

Green Flash Heralds Potential Breakthrough in Climate Modeling, Exascale Design

Considerations in HPC Cluster Network Selection

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!

India Plots Three-Phase Indigenous Supercomputing Strategy

July 26, 2017

Additional details on India's plans to stand up an indigenous supercomputer came to light earlier this week. As reported in the Indian press, the Rs 4,500-crore (~$675 million) supercomputing project, approved by the Ind Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tuning InfiniBand Interconnects Using Congestion Control

July 26, 2017

InfiniBand is among the most common and well-known cluster interconnect technologies. However, the complexities of an InfiniBand (IB) network can frustrate the most experienced cluster administrators. Maintaining a balan Read more…

By Adam Dorsey

NSF Project Sets Up First Machine Learning Cyberinfrastructure – CHASE-CI

July 25, 2017

Earlier this month, the National Science Foundation issued a $1 million grant to Larry Smarr, director of Calit2, and a group of his colleagues to create a community infrastructure in support of machine learning research Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE Servers Deliver High Performance Remote Visualization

Whether generating seismic simulations, locating new productive oil reservoirs, or constructing complex models of the earth’s subsurface, energy, oil, and gas (EO&G) is a highly data-driven industry. Read more…

DARPA Continues Investment in Post-Moore’s Technologies

July 24, 2017

The U.S. military long ago ceded dominance in electronics innovation to Silicon Valley, the DoD-backed powerhouse that has driven microelectronic generation for decades. With Moore's Law clearly running out of steam, the Read more…

By George Leopold

India Plots Three-Phase Indigenous Supercomputing Strategy

July 26, 2017

Additional details on India's plans to stand up an indigenous supercomputer came to light earlier this week. As reported in the Indian press, the Rs 4,500-crore Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tuning InfiniBand Interconnects Using Congestion Control

July 26, 2017

InfiniBand is among the most common and well-known cluster interconnect technologies. However, the complexities of an InfiniBand (IB) network can frustrate the Read more…

By Adam Dorsey

NSF Project Sets Up First Machine Learning Cyberinfrastructure – CHASE-CI

July 25, 2017

Earlier this month, the National Science Foundation issued a $1 million grant to Larry Smarr, director of Calit2, and a group of his colleagues to create a comm Read more…

By John Russell

Graphcore Readies Launch of 16nm Colossus-IPU Chip

July 20, 2017

A second $30 million funding round for U.K. AI chip developer Graphcore sets up the company to go to market with its “intelligent processing unit” (IPU) in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fujitsu Continues HPC, AI Push

July 19, 2017

Summer is well under way, but the so-called summertime slowdown, linked with hot temperatures and longer vacations, does not seem to have impacted Fujitsu's out Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Researchers Use DNA to Store and Retrieve Digital Movie

July 18, 2017

From abacus to pencil and paper to semiconductor chips, the technology of computing has always been an ever-changing target. The human brain is probably the com Read more…

By John Russell

The Exascale FY18 Budget – The Next Step

July 17, 2017

On July 12, 2017, the U.S. federal budget for its Exascale Computing Initiative (ECI) took its next step forward. On that day, the full Appropriations Committee Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Women in HPC Luncheon Shines Light on Female-Friendly Hiring Practices

July 13, 2017

The second annual Women in HPC luncheon was held on June 20, 2017, during the International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt, Germany. The luncheon provid Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Pulls Back the Covers on Its First Machine Learning Chip

April 6, 2017

This week Google released a report detailing the design and performance characteristics of the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), its custom ASIC for the inference Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Just how close real-wo Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the cam Read more…

By John Russell

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

In this contributed perspective piece, Intel’s Jim Jeffers makes the case that CPU-based visualization is now widely adopted and as such is no longer a contrarian view, but is rather an exascale requirement. Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Facebook Open Sources Caffe2; Nvidia, Intel Rush to Optimize

April 18, 2017

From its F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif., today, Facebook announced Caffe2, a new open-source, cross-platform framework for deep learning. Caffe2 is the successor to Caffe, the deep learning framework developed by Berkeley AI Research and community contributors. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Reinders: “AVX-512 May Be a Hidden Gem” in Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

June 29, 2017

Imagine if we could use vector processing on something other than just floating point problems.  Today, GPUs and CPUs work tirelessly to accelerate algorithms Read more…

By James Reinders

Russian Researchers Claim First Quantum-Safe Blockchain

May 25, 2017

The Russian Quantum Center today announced it has overcome the threat of quantum cryptography by creating the first quantum-safe blockchain, securing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, along with classified government communications and other sensitive digital transfers. Read more…

By Doug Black

MIT Mathematician Spins Up 220,000-Core Google Compute Cluster

April 21, 2017

On Thursday, Google announced that MIT math professor and computational number theorist Andrew V. Sutherland had set a record for the largest Google Compute Engine (GCE) job. Sutherland ran the massive mathematics workload on 220,000 GCE cores using preemptible virtual machine instances. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Debuts TPU v2 and will Add to Google Cloud

May 25, 2017

Not long after stirring attention in the deep learning/AI community by revealing the details of its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), Google last week announced the Read more…

By John Russell

Groq This: New AI Chips to Give GPUs a Run for Deep Learning Money

April 24, 2017

CPUs and GPUs, move over. Thanks to recent revelations surrounding Google’s new Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), the computing world appears to be on the cusp of Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Six Exascale PathForward Vendors Selected; DoE Providing $258M

June 15, 2017

The much-anticipated PathForward awards for hardware R&D in support of the Exascale Computing Project were announced today with six vendors selected – AMD Read more…

By John Russell

Top500 Results: Latest List Trends and What’s in Store

June 19, 2017

Greetings from Frankfurt and the 2017 International Supercomputing Conference where the latest Top500 list has just been revealed. Although there were no major Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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