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!

AWS Embraces FPGAs, ‘Elastic’ GPUs

December 2, 2016

A new instance type rolled out this week by Amazon Web Services is based on customizable field programmable gate arrays that promise to strike a balance between performance and cost as emerging workloads create requirements often unmet by general-purpose processors. Read more…

By George Leopold

AWS Launches Massive 100 Petabyte ‘Sneakernet’

December 1, 2016

Amazon Web Services now offers a way to move data into its cloud by the truckload. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Weekly Twitter Roundup (Dec. 1, 2016)

December 1, 2016

Here at HPCwire, we aim to keep the HPC community apprised of the most relevant and interesting news items that get tweeted throughout the week. Read more…

By Thomas Ayres

HPC Career Notes (Dec. 2016)

December 1, 2016

In this monthly feature, we’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest career developments for individuals in the high performance computing community. Read more…

By Thomas Ayres

Lighting up Aurora: Behind the Scenes at the Creation of the DOE’s Upcoming 200 Petaflops Supercomputer

December 1, 2016

In April 2015, U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary Franklin Orr announced that Intel would be the prime contractor for Aurora: Read more…

By Jan Rowell

IBM and NSF Computing Pioneer Erich Bloch Dies at 91

November 30, 2016

Erich Bloch, a computational pioneer whose competitive zeal and commercial bent helped transform the National Science Foundation while he was its director, died last Friday at age 91. Bloch was a productive force to be reckoned. During his long stint at IBM prior to joining NSF Bloch spearheaded development of the “Stretch” supercomputer and IBM’s phenomenally successful System/360. Read more…

By John Russell

Pioneering Programmers Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

November 30, 2016

In an awards ceremony on November 22, President Barack Obama recognized 21 recipients with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nation’s highest civilian honor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Seagate-led SAGE Project Delivers Update on Exascale Goals

November 29, 2016

Roughly a year and a half after its launch, the SAGE exascale storage project led by Seagate has delivered a substantive interim report – Data Storage for Extreme Scale. Read more…

By John Russell

AWS Launches Massive 100 Petabyte ‘Sneakernet’

December 1, 2016

Amazon Web Services now offers a way to move data into its cloud by the truckload. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Lighting up Aurora: Behind the Scenes at the Creation of the DOE’s Upcoming 200 Petaflops Supercomputer

December 1, 2016

In April 2015, U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary Franklin Orr announced that Intel would be the prime contractor for Aurora: Read more…

By Jan Rowell

Seagate-led SAGE Project Delivers Update on Exascale Goals

November 29, 2016

Roughly a year and a half after its launch, the SAGE exascale storage project led by Seagate has delivered a substantive interim report – Data Storage for Extreme Scale. Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Sees Bright Future for AI Supercomputing

November 23, 2016

Graphics chipmaker Nvidia made a strong showing at SC16 in Salt Lake City last week. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE-SGI to Tackle Exascale and Enterprise Targets

November 22, 2016

At first blush, and maybe second blush too, Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s (HPE) purchase of SGI seems like an unambiguous win-win. SGI’s advanced shared memory technology, its popular UV product line (Hanna), deep vertical market expertise, and services-led go-to-market capability all give HPE a leg up in its drive to remake itself. Bear in mind HPE came into existence just a year ago with the split of Hewlett-Packard. The computer landscape, including HPC, is shifting with still unclear consequences. One wonders who’s next on the deal block following Dell’s recent merger with EMC. Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Details AI Hardware Strategy for Post-GPU Age

November 21, 2016

Last week at SC16, Intel revealed its product roadmap for embedding its processors with key capabilities and attributes needed to take artificial intelligence (AI) to the next level. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

SC Says Farewell to Salt Lake City, See You in Denver

November 18, 2016

After an intense four-day flurry of activity (and a cold snap that brought some actual snow flurries), the SC16 show floor closed yesterday (Thursday) and the always-extensive technical program wound down today. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

D-Wave SC16 Update: What’s Bo Ewald Saying These Days

November 18, 2016

Tucked in a back section of the SC16 exhibit hall, quantum computing pioneer D-Wave has been talking up its new 2000-qubit processor announced in September. Forget for a moment the criticism sometimes aimed at D-Wave. This small Canadian company has sold several machines including, for example, ones to Lockheed and NASA, and has worked with Google on mapping machine learning problems to quantum computing. In July Los Alamos National Laboratory took possession of a 1000-quibit D-Wave 2X system that LANL ordered a year ago around the time of SC15. Read more…

By John Russell

Why 2016 Is the Most Important Year in HPC in Over Two Decades

August 23, 2016

In 1994, two NASA employees connected 16 commodity workstations together using a standard Ethernet LAN and installed open-source message passing software that allowed their number-crunching scientific application to run on the whole “cluster” of machines as if it were a single entity. Read more…

By Vincent Natoli, Stone Ridge Technology

IBM Advances Against x86 with Power9

August 30, 2016

After offering OpenPower Summit attendees a limited preview in April, IBM is unveiling further details of its next-gen CPU, Power9, which the tech mainstay is counting on to regain market share ceded to rival Intel. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AWS Beats Azure to K80 General Availability

September 30, 2016

Amazon Web Services has seeded its cloud with Nvidia Tesla K80 GPUs to meet the growing demand for accelerated computing across an increasingly-diverse range of workloads. The P2 instance family is a welcome addition for compute- and data-focused users who were growing frustrated with the performance limitations of Amazon's G2 instances, which are backed by three-year-old Nvidia GRID K520 graphics cards. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Think Fast – Is Neuromorphic Computing Set to Leap Forward?

August 15, 2016

Steadily advancing neuromorphic computing technology has created high expectations for this fundamentally different approach to computing. Read more…

By John Russell

The Exascale Computing Project Awards $39.8M to 22 Projects

September 7, 2016

The Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project (ECP) hit an important milestone today with the announcement of its first round of funding, moving the nation closer to its goal of reaching capable exascale computing by 2023. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Gobbles SGI for Larger Slice of $11B HPC Pie

August 11, 2016

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) announced today that it will acquire rival HPC server maker SGI for $7.75 per share, or about $275 million, inclusive of cash and debt. The deal ends the seven-year reprieve that kept the SGI banner flying after Rackable Systems purchased the bankrupt Silicon Graphics Inc. for $25 million in 2009 and assumed the SGI brand. Bringing SGI into its fold bolsters HPE's high-performance computing and data analytics capabilities and expands its position... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ARM Unveils Scalable Vector Extension for HPC at Hot Chips

August 22, 2016

ARM and Fujitsu today announced a scalable vector extension (SVE) to the ARMv8-A architecture intended to enhance ARM capabilities in HPC workloads. Fujitsu is the lead silicon partner in the effort (so far) and will use ARM with SVE technology in its post K computer, Japan’s next flagship supercomputer planned for the 2020 timeframe. This is an important incremental step for ARM, which seeks to push more aggressively into mainstream and HPC server markets. Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Debuts Power8 Chip with NVLink and Three New Systems

September 8, 2016

Not long after revealing more details about its next-gen Power9 chip due in 2017, IBM today rolled out three new Power8-based Linux servers and a new version of its Power8 chip featuring Nvidia’s NVLink interconnect. Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

Vectors: How the Old Became New Again in Supercomputing

September 26, 2016

Vector instructions, once a powerful performance innovation of supercomputing in the 1970s and 1980s became an obsolete technology in the 1990s. But like the mythical phoenix bird, vector instructions have arisen from the ashes. Here is the history of a technology that went from new to old then back to new. Read more…

By Lynd Stringer

US, China Vie for Supercomputing Supremacy

November 14, 2016

The 48th edition of the TOP500 list is fresh off the presses and while there is no new number one system, as previously teased by China, there are a number of notable entrants from the US and around the world and significant trends to report on. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Silicon Photonics Chip, Previews Next-Gen Phi for AI

August 18, 2016

At the Intel Developer Forum, held in San Francisco this week, Intel Senior Vice President and General Manager Diane Bryant announced the launch of Intel's Silicon Photonics product line and teased a brand-new Phi product, codenamed "Knights Mill," aimed at machine learning workloads. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU Benchmarking: Haswell Versus POWER8

June 2, 2015

With OpenPOWER activity ramping up and IBM’s prominent role in the upcoming DOE machines Summit and Sierra, it’s a good time to look at how the IBM POWER CPU stacks up against the x86 Xeon Haswell CPU from Intel. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Beyond von Neumann, Neuromorphic Computing Steadily Advances

March 21, 2016

Neuromorphic computing – brain inspired computing – has long been a tantalizing goal. The human brain does with around 20 watts what supercomputers do with megawatts. And power consumption isn’t the only difference. Fundamentally, brains ‘think differently’ than the von Neumann architecture-based computers. While neuromorphic computing progress has been intriguing, it has still not proven very practical. Read more…

By John Russell

Dell EMC Engineers Strategy to Democratize HPC

September 29, 2016

The freshly minted Dell EMC division of Dell Technologies is on a mission to take HPC mainstream with a strategy that hinges on engineered solutions, beginning with a focus on three industry verticals: manufacturing, research and life sciences. "Unlike traditional HPC where everybody bought parts, assembled parts and ran the workloads and did iterative engineering, we want folks to focus on time to innovation and let us worry about the infrastructure," said Jim Ganthier, senior vice president, validated solutions organization at Dell EMC Converged Platforms Solution Division. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Container App ‘Singularity’ Eases Scientific Computing

October 20, 2016

HPC container platform Singularity is just six months out from its 1.0 release but already is making inroads across the HPC research landscape. It's in use at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), where Singularity founder Gregory Kurtzer has worked in the High Performance Computing Services (HPCS) group for 16 years. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Micron, Intel Prepare to Launch 3D XPoint Memory

August 16, 2016

Micron Technology used last week’s Flash Memory Summit to roll out its new line of 3D XPoint memory technology jointly developed with Intel while demonstrating the technology in solid-state drives. Micron claimed its Quantx line delivers PCI Express (PCIe) SSD performance with read latencies at less than 10 microseconds and writes at less than 20 microseconds. Read more…

By George Leopold

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