Cray Cascades Over GPU, Coprocessor Edge

By Nicole Hemsoth

October 1, 2013

Back in 2006, Cray announced a new strategy, called Adaptive Supercomputing, which was aimed at creating a single supercomputer architecture that could integrate multiple processing technologies. The slings and arrows of HPC trends haven’t led them off course with that mission, as the natural progression of its X30 (aka “Cascade”) story reveals.

Actively recalling that Adaptive Supercomputing vision, this morning company let fly that its XC30 supercomputer has stepped up its performance capability with the addition of support for both Xeon Phi coprocessors and NVIDIA Tesla 20X accelerators. Until this point, the system held steady with its Xeon-based roadmap, which was offered a fast lane with the company’s Aries interconnect and the Dragonfly topology—a set of system choices that Cray always touted as being primed for acceleration and coprocessor additions.

crayxc30In addition to being able to springboard off the Xeon E5, which alone provides 99 teraflops per cabinet, the X30 links its processor engine technology to the blade with a duet of configurable daughter cards that give Cascade its ability to march beyond standard CPUs. For those on the X30 upgrade warpath, these can be swapped or reconfigured without taking the blades out of place.

This was not an entirely unexpected development following the announcement back in March that the Piz Daint supercomputer at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre was getting an accelerator boost via GPU—the first of its kind on the XC30 front. According to Thomas Schulthess, professor at ETH Zurich and director of the Swiss National Supercomputing Center, the upgrade is already kicking out dividends on the performance and efficient fronts.

“Our first experience with climate and materials science applications showed that replacing one of the multi-core processors in the XC30 with an NVIDIA Tesla GPU boosts application performance and disproportionally reduced energy to solution,” Schulthess said. A recent test using a climate simulation on Piz Daint now runs over three times faster and reaching the solution with seven times less energy consumed as compared to CSCS’ current flagship system “Monte Rosa”. Further, according to CSCS, “Even compared to the exclusively CPU processors previously available in Piz Daint the hybrid system with the GPU processors is expected to run almost three times more energy-efficiently than with CPUs only.”

For more details about the center’s experiences with the upgrade and subsequent performance, Schulthess details it at length below..

“We designed the Cray XC30 supercomputer to be the realization of our Adaptive Supercomputing vision, which is about providing customers with a powerful, flexible tool for solving a multidisciplinary array of computing challenges,” said Peg Williams, Cray’s senior vice president of high performance computing systems. “Integrating diverse accelerator and coprocessor technologies into our XC30 systems gives our customers a variety of processing options for their demanding computational needs. Equally as important, Cray XC30 supercomputers feature an innovative software environment that allows our customers to optimize their use of diverse processing options for their unique applications.”

“Understanding that no single processor engine is ideal for every type of user application, the Cray XC30 series highlights the flexibility of scalar processing, coprocessing and accelerators to build hybrid systems capable of leveraging the strengths of each technology into one ‘adaptive’ HPC environment.” The company goes on to note that “merging x86 multicore benefits with coprocessor or accelerator manycore advantages addresses the need to target the best processing engine type for a specific function.”

Interestingly, when Cray’s Adaptive Supercomputing vision was announced, it was at the beginning of the “Rainier” era, which was dominated by AMD processors. As Cray has continued to branch out beyond a single processor vendor and processing paradigm, their seven-year journey toward that initial adaptive concept has certainly rounded the bend, offering them new inroads in both commercial and scientific computing environments. The lead-off from their Gemini interconnect via Aries opened the door for hybrid systems—and one has to wonder what impact that will have on the up-and-coming new crop of supers at the top tier of this November’s 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!

AI-Focused ‘Genius’ Supercomputer Installed at KU Leuven

April 24, 2018

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has deployed a new approximately half-petaflops supercomputer, named Genius, at Flemish research university KU Leuven. The system is built to run artificial intelligence (AI) workloads and, as Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

New Exascale System for Earth Simulation Introduced

April 23, 2018

After four years of development, the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) will be unveiled today and released to the broader scientific community this month. The E3SM project is supported by the Department of Energy Read more…

By Staff

RSC Reports 500Tflops, Hot Water Cooled System Deployed at JINR

April 18, 2018

RSC, developer of supercomputers and advanced HPC systems based in Russia, today reported deployment of “the world's first 100% ‘hot water’ liquid cooled supercomputer” at Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JI Read more…

By Staff

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Hybrid HPC is Speeding Time to Insight and Revolutionizing Medicine

High performance computing (HPC) is a key driver of success in many verticals today, and health and life science industries are extensively leveraging these capabilities. Read more…

New Device Spots Quantum Particle ‘Fingerprint’

April 18, 2018

Majorana particles have been observed by university researchers employing a device consisting of layers of magnetic insulators on a superconducting material. The advance opens the door to controlling the elusive particle Read more…

By George Leopold

AI-Focused ‘Genius’ Supercomputer Installed at KU Leuven

April 24, 2018

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has deployed a new approximately half-petaflops supercomputer, named Genius, at Flemish research university KU Leuven. The system is Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’ Read more…

By John Russell

IBM: Software Ecosystem for OpenPOWER is Ready for Prime Time

April 16, 2018

With key pieces of the IBM/OpenPOWER versus Intel/x86 gambit settling into place – e.g., the arrival of Power9 chips and Power9-based systems, hyperscaler sup Read more…

By John Russell

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cloud-Readiness and Looking Beyond Application Scaling

April 11, 2018

There are two aspects to consider when determining if an application is suitable for running in the cloud. The first, which we will discuss here under the title Read more…

By Chris Downing

Transitioning from Big Data to Discovery: Data Management as a Keystone Analytics Strategy

April 9, 2018

The past 10-15 years has seen a stark rise in the density, size, and diversity of scientific data being generated in every scientific discipline in the world. Key among the sciences has been the explosion of laboratory technologies that generate large amounts of data in life-sciences and healthcare research. Large amounts of data are now being stored in very large storage name spaces, with little to no organization and a general unease about how to approach analyzing it. Read more…

By Ari Berman, BioTeam, Inc.

IBM Expands Quantum Computing Network

April 5, 2018

IBM is positioning itself as a first mover in establishing the era of commercial quantum computing. The company believes in order for quantum to work, taming qu Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

FY18 Budget & CORAL-2 – Exascale USA Continues to Move Ahead

April 2, 2018

It was not pretty. However, despite some twists and turns, the federal government’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget is complete and ended with some very positi Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

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 Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How the Cloud Is Falling Short for HPC

March 15, 2018

The last couple of years have seen cloud computing gradually build some legitimacy within the HPC world, but still the HPC industry lies far behind enterprise I Read more…

By Chris Downing

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. 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

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

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

Deep Learning at 15 PFlops Enables Training for Extreme Weather Identification at Scale

March 19, 2018

Petaflop per second deep learning training performance on the NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center) Cori supercomputer has given climate Read more…

By Rob Farber

Leading Solution Providers

Lenovo Unveils Warm Water Cooled ThinkSystem SD650 in Rampup to LRZ Install

February 22, 2018

This week Lenovo took the wraps off the ThinkSystem SD650 high-density server with third-generation direct water cooling technology developed in tandem with par 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

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended Read more…

By Doug Black

HPC and AI – Two Communities Same Future

January 25, 2018

According to Al Gara (Intel Fellow, Data Center Group), high performance computing and artificial intelligence will increasingly intertwine as we transition to Read more…

By Rob Farber

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

New Blueprint for Converging HPC, Big Data

January 18, 2018

After five annual workshops on Big Data and Extreme-Scale Computing (BDEC), a group of international HPC heavyweights including Jack Dongarra (University of Te Read more…

By John Russell

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

Google Chases Quantum Supremacy with 72-Qubit Processor

March 7, 2018

Google pulled ahead of the pack this week in the race toward "quantum supremacy," with the introduction of a new 72-qubit quantum processor called Bristlecone. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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