NVIDIA Highlights GPU Progress on Titan Supercomputer

By Nicole Hemsoth

March 27, 2014

The GPU Technology Conference this week in San Jose offered plenty of material for the supercomputing set with a number of presentations focused on specific programming challenges for large-scale scientific and enterprise HPC applications. The Titan system at Oak Ridge National Lab tied together key themes through a number of the talks, which helped put massive-scale use of GPUs in better context.

Jim Rogers, Director of Operations at the National Center for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory described in detail how the 27-petaflop Titan system has been making use of its 18,688 NVIDIA Tesla K20 GPUs. Oak Ridge is able to track efficiency metrics through recent changes in the Kepler device driver and Cray’s software that allows for sophisticated reporting of GPU usage metrics for both memory use and scheduled work. Rogers used the data from these metrics to point to the some specific operational benefits to using GPUs over a multicore-only approach, estimating that their use of GPUs at such scale has offered over 5x the efficiency of CPU-only system.

titan_detailsThe efficiency and performance message seems to be resonating with an increasing number of users requesting allocations on Titan, says Fernanda Foertter, HPC User Support Specialist at Oak Ridge National Lab. In her GTC presentation about GPU interest and user needs on Titan, she highlighted the demand for GPU acceleration for a growing number of applications. Foertter was able to collect several perspectives from users of Titan about their experiences porting applications and making use of the accelerators and pointed to the role of acceleration for the future of exascale-class systems. Her presentation set the stage for a number of topics around GPU usage on Titan, particularly in terms of the coding support required for complex scientific and commercial codes.

Aside from details about general production and operation of the system, there were a number of users of the Titan system present to share experiences about porting and altering their codes as well as gauging performance against CPU-only systems. Among such users was Evghenii Gaburov, HPC Advisor at SURFsara, who described how his team was able to leverage Titan to simulate the evolution of the Milky Way on a star-by-star basis in just over a week. While he made no secret of the challenges in parallelizing an advanced hierarchical GPU tree-code for use on Titan, after some significant workarounds, they were able to redesign the communication strategy to maximize both the CPU and GPU use and allow their application to scale to over 8000 of Titan’s GPUs.

Others shared war stories about getting their codes primed to run on Titan and other GPU-powered supercomputers, including James Phillips, a senior research programmer at the University of Illinois. His team had already worked with the NAMD molecular dynamics code on Blue Waters and before they began to tap into Titan. Again, while there were significant software challenges, once the team overcame some of the core barriers of their legacy application using core CUDA 5.5 and Kepler features, they were able to improve their time to result—one that allows researchers to model the complete atomic structure of the HIV capsid.

Weather modeling efforts on Titan were a prime use case that opened the doors for researchers to talk about the use of GPUs at large scale to continue improving model resolution. Dag Lohmann, co-founder at catastrophe modeling company, Katrisk, described how his company, which was recently selected by Oak Ridge National Lab to use Titan for specific flooding events, was enthusiastic about the performance boost offered by GPUs. In addition to providing a great overview of catastrophe modeling in the context of global flood risk models, he detailed the challenges of getting their CUDA-based fluid mechanics code to run on the Keplers (in terms of code, data assimilation, data volume, etc). The end result of their work allows KatRisk to create probabilistic flood models and maps at high resolution.

tesla_cardAlso on the weather and climate front, Mark Govett, Chief of the Advanced Computing division at NOAA discussed the development, parallelization and performance of the NIM next-gen weather model for the Titan system, which will allow the weather agency to improve weather prediction accuracy. Specifically, Govett talked about NOAA’s experiences using OpenACC compilers—an important element since NOAA’s parallelization path has relied on a homegrown directive-based Fortran-to-CUDA  compiler to get the application ready to run at the full resolution across 5000 Titan nodes.

Others shared specific thoughts on code-related issues at Titan scale. For instance, Alan Gray, a research architect at EPCC at the University of Edinburgh described their work with a highly complex application that allowed his team to scale their soft matter physics code to over 8,000 GPUs on Titan. Specifically, he talked about the challenges and ultimate success of blending CUDA and MPI and shared details about their communication library, which can be adopted by others. Interestingly, with their code that supports bboth GPU and CPU-only versions, they were able to demonstrate a performance enhancement of 3.5-5x using the GPU variant against the same code running on fully utilized CPUs.

More researchers, including Mathias Wagner, from Bielfeld University and Indiana University, shared how GPUs are advancing quantum chromodynamics following his team’s preparation of complex code for Titan via the QUDA library. In a similar vein, Justin Foley, a developer at Microway and NVIDIA, described QUDA in more detail for the same research area, which rounded out the picture for Lattice Quantm Chromodynamics on Titan GPUs.

Researchers from GE Global were on hand as well to talk about scaling their codes to meet the GPU capabilities on Titan for gas turbine modeling and accelerating three-body molecular dynamics codes and others shared details about scaling to Titan heights for seismic and medical research applications.

On the code front, OpenACC was a hot topic among the HPC set. Rob Farber did an excellent job of highlighting some of the key trends in programming and optimizing for GPUs at large scale. He presented on new results that extend machine learning and big data analysis to 13 petaflops average sustained performance across 16,384 GPUs on Titan—a very popular topic.

As we noted earlier in the week, this GTC event didn’t seem to emphasize the gaming and entertainment crowd. The focus on large-scale analytics, cognitive computing, computer vision and of course, scientific computing were top of the charts in terms of sessions and posters. Jack Wells from Oak Ridge, who chaired the “Extreme Scale Supercomputing with the Titan Supercomputer” series for GTC was able to gather a representative sample of leading researchers to put real-world use and challenge context into the Titan story.

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!

ISC 2018 Preview from @hpcnotes

June 21, 2018

Prepare for your social media feed to be saturated with #HPC, #ISC18, #Top500, etc. Prepare for your mainstream media to talk about supercomputers (in between the hourly commentary on Brexit, the FIFA World Cup, or US pr Read more…

By Andrew Jones

AMD’s EPYC Road to Redemption in Six Slides

June 21, 2018

A year ago AMD returned to the server market with its EPYC processor line. The earth didn’t tremble but folks took notice. People remember the Opteron fondly but later versions of the Bulldozer line not so much. Fast f Read more…

By John Russell

Why Student Cluster Competitions are Better than World Cup

June 21, 2018

My last article about the ISC18 Student Cluster Competition, titled “World Cup is Lame Compared to This Competition”, may have implied that I believe Student Cluster Competitions are better than World Cup soccer in s Read more…

By Dan Olds

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPC and AI Convergence is Accelerating New Levels of Intelligence

Data analytics is the most valuable tool in the digital marketplace – so much so that organizations are employing high performance computing (HPC) capabilities to rapidly collect, share, and analyze endless streams of data. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Preview the World’s Smartest Supercomputer at ISC 2018

Introducing an accelerated IT infrastructure for HPC & AI workloads Read more…

European HPC Summit Week and PRACEdays 2018: Slaying Dragons and SHAPEing Futures One SME at a Time

June 20, 2018

The University of Ljubljana in Slovenia hosted the third annual EHPCSW18 and fifth annual PRACEdays18 events which opened May 29, 2018. The conference was chaired by PRACE Council Vice-Chair Sergi Girona (Barcelona Super Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake (STEM-Trek for HPCwire)

ISC 2018 Preview from @hpcnotes

June 21, 2018

Prepare for your social media feed to be saturated with #HPC, #ISC18, #Top500, etc. Prepare for your mainstream media to talk about supercomputers (in between t Read more…

By Andrew Jones

AMD’s EPYC Road to Redemption in Six Slides

June 21, 2018

A year ago AMD returned to the server market with its EPYC processor line. The earth didn’t tremble but folks took notice. People remember the Opteron fondly Read more…

By John Russell

European HPC Summit Week and PRACEdays 2018: Slaying Dragons and SHAPEing Futures One SME at a Time

June 20, 2018

The University of Ljubljana in Slovenia hosted the third annual EHPCSW18 and fifth annual PRACEdays18 events which opened May 29, 2018. The conference was chair Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake (STEM-Trek for HPCwire)

Cray Introduces All Flash Lustre Storage Solution Targeting HPC

June 19, 2018

Citing the rise of IOPS-intensive workflows and more affordable flash technology, Cray today introduced the L300F, a scalable all-flash storage solution whose p Read more…

By John Russell

Sandia to Take Delivery of World’s Largest Arm System

June 18, 2018

While the enterprise remains circumspect on prospects for Arm servers in the datacenter, the leadership HPC community is taking a bolder, brighter view of the x86 server CPU alternative. Amongst current and planned Arm HPC installations – i.e., the innovative Mont-Blanc project, led by Bull/Atos, the 'Isambard’ Cray XC50 going into the University of Bristol, and commitments from both Japan and France among others -- HPE is announcing that it will be supply the United States National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) with a 2.3 petaflops peak Arm-based system, named Astra. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The Machine Learning Hype Cycle and HPC

June 14, 2018

Like many other HPC professionals I’m following the hype cycle around machine learning/deep learning with interest. I subscribe to the view that we’re probably approaching the ‘peak of inflated expectation’ but not quite yet starting the descent into the ‘trough of disillusionment. This still raises the probability that... Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

Xiaoxiang Zhu Receives the 2018 PRACE Ada Lovelace Award for HPC

June 13, 2018

Xiaoxiang Zhu, who works for the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and Technical University of Munich (TUM), was awarded the 2018 PRACE Ada Lovelace Award for HPC for her outstanding contributions in the field of high performance computing (HPC) in Europe. Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake

U.S Considering Launch of National Quantum Initiative

June 11, 2018

Sometime this month the U.S. House Science Committee will introduce legislation to launch a 10-year National Quantum Initiative, according to a recent report by Read more…

By John Russell

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

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

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

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

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

ORNL Summit Supercomputer Is Officially Here

June 8, 2018

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) together with IBM and Nvidia celebrated the official unveiling of the Department of Energy (DOE) Summit supercomputer toda 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

Hennessy & Patterson: A New Golden Age for Computer Architecture

April 17, 2018

On Monday June 4, 2018, 2017 A.M. Turing Award Winners John L. Hennessy and David A. Patterson will deliver the Turing Lecture at the 45th International Sympo Read more…

By Staff

Leading Solution Providers

SC17 Booth Video Tours Playlist

Altair @ SC17


AMD @ SC17


ASRock Rack @ SC17

ASRock Rack



DDN Storage @ SC17

DDN Storage

Huawei @ SC17


IBM @ SC17


IBM Power Systems @ SC17

IBM Power Systems

Intel @ SC17


Lenovo @ SC17


Mellanox Technologies @ SC17

Mellanox Technologies

Microsoft @ SC17


Penguin Computing @ SC17

Penguin Computing

Pure Storage @ SC17

Pure Storage

Supericro @ SC17


Tyan @ SC17


Univa @ SC17


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

Google I/O 2018: AI Everywhere; TPU 3.0 Delivers 100+ Petaflops but Requires Liquid Cooling

May 9, 2018

All things AI dominated discussion at yesterday’s opening of Google’s I/O 2018 developers meeting covering much of Google's near-term product roadmap. The e Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Ups Hardware Game with 16-GPU DGX-2 Server and 18-Port NVSwitch

March 27, 2018

Nvidia unveiled a raft of new products from its annual technology conference in San Jose today, and despite not offering up a new chip architecture, there were still a few surprises in store for HPC hardware aficionados. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Pattern Computer – Startup Claims Breakthrough in ‘Pattern Discovery’ Technology

May 23, 2018

If it weren’t for the heavy-hitter technology team behind start-up Pattern Computer, which emerged from stealth today in a live-streamed event from San Franci Read more…

By John Russell

Part One: Deep Dive into 2018 Trends in Life Sciences HPC

March 1, 2018

Life sciences is an interesting lens through which to see HPC. It is perhaps not an obvious choice, given life sciences’ relative newness as a heavy user of H Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Pledges First Commercial Nervana Product ‘Spring Crest’ in 2019

May 24, 2018

At its AI developer conference in San Francisco yesterday, Intel embraced a holistic approach to AI and showed off a broad AI portfolio that includes Xeon processors, Movidius technologies, FPGAs and Intel’s Nervana Neural Network Processors (NNPs), based on the technology it acquired in 2016. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Charts Two-Dimensional Quantum Course

April 26, 2018

Quantum error correction, essential for achieving universal fault-tolerant quantum computation, is one of the main challenges of the quantum computing field and it’s top of mind for Google’s John Martinis. At a presentation last week at the HPC User Forum in Tucson, Martinis, one of the world's foremost experts in quantum computing, emphasized... 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

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