First Details Emerge from Cray on Trinity Supercomputer

By Nicole Hemsoth

July 10, 2014

Note – 7:32 p.m. Eastern: We have full details from Los Alamos about the system in a detailed update article.

Cray has been granted one of the largest awards in its history for the long-awaited “Trinity” supercomputer. This morning the company announced a $174 million deal to provide the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) with a multi-petaflop next generation Cray XC machine, complemented by an 82 petabyte capacity Cray Sonexion storage system. The goal of the new super is set to contend with the agency’s nuclear stockpiles, simulating everything from continued maintenance, degradation, and even destruction of the vast reserves, as well as hosting a wealth of classified national security applications.

The original proposal for the system suggest a need for a machine capable of up to 30 petaflops, and it looks like this might not be unrealistic given what we know about the architectural choices and the amount Cray inked into their revenue for the year today—causing a decent uptick in their stock price and tipping them into billion-dollar valuation territory.

The system will be powered by what sounds like a relatively balanced combination of future-generation Haswells (we’re guessing between 14-18 cores) and future Knights Landing processors (60+ cores), which represents a strategy that’s driven by a clear sense of NNSA application and simulation goals. We’ll do some speculative math in the coming week or so about what this system might actually look like since nothing has been released FLOPS or otherwise, but given so many unknowns in terms of final core counts of the Haswell and Knights Landing as well as pricing, we want to take our time on those guesses. But the early look we got with the formal announcement and our conversation with Cray denotes this is going to be core-heavy, FLOPS-centric powerhouse, even if it doesn’t meet the high-end 30 petaflop target.

Following a conversation this morning with Cray’s Barry Bolding, we learned there are two major phases in the deployment leading up to the acceptance testing late next year or into the following year, which is likely determined by Intel’s delivery of the new Xeons and Knights Landing chips versus any delays on Cray’s part. What’s interesting is that it sounds like it’s a balanced system between the two core types.

Bolding says that the processor updates are a defining factor in the next generation of their XC rather than an entirely new system set driven by custom engineering of the entire system’s interconnect, cooling, or other components. He does note that in the new generation of XC machines there has been extensive work done to support the large number of new Intel cores within the software stack, and ostensibly in their Sonexion storage to support the tiered storage demands for using burst buffers in novel ways. The idea, he says, is to make machines that are ready to roll into large deployments like this and the NERSC system instead of custom engineering systems based on particular user requirements.

“It’s hard to build these reproducible products at this scale that multiple sites agree they can all use. Our philosophy is to create these massive production systems and it’s good that we don’t have to custom design each one. There’s going to be an evolution of the software stack and new features we’re not talking about today, but there will be innovations—and that’s another reason it’s a multi-phased approach.”

“Each phase is significant in size—the first will predominantly be the next-generation Haswell processors, followed by the Knight’s Landing piece in a later phase.” They’re both major parts of the installation, one isn’t much larger than the other.

Other systems that are set to come online in the next year and a half may be reliant on more novel, diverse architectures, but with a very specific, known set of users and projects, it’s clear that the NNSA had a direct sense of how the additional cores (and presumably on-package memory of Knight’s Landing) would translate directly into meaningful results.

The system choice was driven by the need to secure a mixed workload system, hence the processor choice of both Knight’s Landing and Haswell cores (compared to the NERSC “Cori” supercomputer that Cray is building which is predominantly next-generation Knight’s Landing based). “The binary compatibility in their Xeon line is a Knight’s innovation when you want to do heterogeneous types of problems across different types of processors. It’s not super-unique, but it’s interesting that they want to do this at such large scale,” said Bolding.

NERSC’s system and Trinity are both XC systems, but these are different workloads with different mandates. NERSC has a broad user base as an open science DoE system serving thousands of applications and hundreds of users. The Trinity system will be used for more targeted weapons stockpile-related workloads.” He says it shows that the XC systems can be diverse enough to support both distinct user types and beyond.

Aside from the sheer core thrust from the Intel processors, one of the more interesting elements of the upcoming machine is the storage. Bolding says they wanted a very large, powerful Lustre environment and Sonexion met those requirements. We’ll be bringing more details on the burst buffer and general storage component later today following a conversation with one of the leads on that front at Los Alamos but for now, we have some initial details from Cray.

“Tiered storage (and burst buffers are a particular tier) will be more important for customers like this in the future but there is real interest in more than just Lustre at other tiers. We are working to develop this in multiple tiers to support these needs,” said Bolding.

This is among the largest deals in Cray’s history. The company had a multi-year DARPA contract valued initially at $250 million in 2006, although the final contract was closer to the amount of the Trinity system. The Blue Waters procurement, as tangled as it might have been in 2011, was around $200 million, and at Oak Ridge, other similar deals in terms of dollar value were secured. Still, this represents one of the top contracts for Cray—and we’re just getting into swing with procurement news, which will pick up now that there is clarity around when the latest Intel processors will roll out—something that undoubtedly is driving procurement timelines across the board.

The new supercomputer will be housed at Los Alamos National Laboratory and is part of a joint effort between the New Mexico Alliance for Computing at Extreme Scale (ACES), based at LANL, and Sandia National Laboratories’ NNSA Advanced Simulation and Computing Program (ASC).

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!

RPI Powers Up ‘AiMOS’ AI Supercomputer

December 11, 2019

Designed to push the frontiers of computing chip and systems performance optimized for AI workloads, an 8 petaflops (Linpack) IBM Power9-based supercomputer has been unveiled in upstate New York that will be used by IBM Read more…

By Doug Black

At SC19: Developing a Digital Twin

December 11, 2019

In the not too distant future, we can expect to see our skies filled with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) delivering packages, maybe even people, from location to location. In such a world, there will also be a digita Read more…

By Aaron Dubrow

Supercomputers Help Predict Carbon Dioxide Levels

December 10, 2019

The Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems – its lands, forests, jungles and so on – are crucial “sinks” for atmospheric carbon, holding nearly 30 percent of our annual CO2 emissions as they breathe in the carbon-rich Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Finally! SC19 Competitors Live and in Color!

December 10, 2019

You know the saying “better late than never”? That’s how my cluster competition coverage is faring this year. With SC19 coming late in November, quickly followed by my annual trip to South Africa to cover their clu Read more…

By Dan Olds

Intel’s Jim Clarke on its New Cryo-controller and why Intel isn’t Late to the Quantum Party

December 9, 2019

Intel today introduced the ‘first-of-its-kind’ cryo-controller chip for quantum computing and previewed a cryo-prober tool for characterizing quantum processor chips. The new controller is a mixed-signal SoC named Ho Read more…

By John Russell

AWS Solution Channel

Making High Performance Computing Affordable and Accessible for Small and Medium Businesses with HPC on AWS

High performance computing (HPC) brings a powerful set of tools to a broad range of industries, helping to drive innovation and boost revenue in finance, genomics, oil and gas extraction, and other fields. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

GPU Scheduling and Resource Accounting: The Key to an Efficient AI Data Center

[Connect with LSF users and learn new skills in the IBM Spectrum LSF User Community!]

GPUs are the new CPUs

GPUs have become a staple technology in modern HPC and AI data centers. Read more…

What’s New in HPC Research: Natural Gas, Precision Agriculture, Neural Networks and More

December 6, 2019

In this bimonthly feature, HPCwire highlights newly published research in the high-performance computing community and related domains. From parallel programming to exascale to quantum computing, the details are here. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

RPI Powers Up ‘AiMOS’ AI Supercomputer

December 11, 2019

Designed to push the frontiers of computing chip and systems performance optimized for AI workloads, an 8 petaflops (Linpack) IBM Power9-based supercomputer has Read more…

By Doug Black

Intel’s Jim Clarke on its New Cryo-controller and why Intel isn’t Late to the Quantum Party

December 9, 2019

Intel today introduced the ‘first-of-its-kind’ cryo-controller chip for quantum computing and previewed a cryo-prober tool for characterizing quantum proces Read more…

By John Russell

On the Spack Track @SC19

December 5, 2019

At the annual supercomputing conference, SC19 in Denver, Colorado, there were Spack events each day of the conference. As a reflection of its grassroots heritage, nine sessions were planned by more than a dozen thought leaders from seven organizations, including three U.S. national Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories and Sylabs... Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake

Intel’s New Hyderabad Design Center Targets Exascale Era Technologies

December 3, 2019

Intel's Raja Koduri was in India this week to help launch a new 300,000 square foot design and engineering center in Hyderabad, which will focus on advanced com Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AWS Debuts 7nm 2nd-Gen Graviton Arm Processor

December 3, 2019

The “x86 Big Bang,” in which market dominance of the venerable Intel CPU has exploded into fragments of processor options suited to varying workloads, has n Read more…

By Doug Black

Ride on the Wild Side – Squyres SC19 Mars Rovers Keynote

December 2, 2019

Reminding us of the deep and enabling connection between HPC and modern science is an important part of the SC Conference mission. And yes, HPC is a science its Read more…

By John Russell

NSCI Update – Adapting to a Changing Landscape

December 2, 2019

It was November of 2017 when we last visited the topic of the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI). As you will recall, the NSCI was started with an Executive Order (E.O. No. 13702), that was issued by President Obama in July of 2015 and was followed by a Strategic Plan that was released in July of 2016. The question for November of 2017... Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Tsinghua University Racks Up Its Ninth Student Cluster Championship Win at SC19

November 27, 2019

Tsinghua University has done it again. At SC19 last week, the eight-time gold medal-winner team took home the top prize in the 2019 Student Cluster Competition Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

D-Wave’s Path to 5000 Qubits; Google’s Quantum Supremacy Claim

September 24, 2019

On the heels of IBM’s quantum news last week come two more quantum items. D-Wave Systems today announced the name of its forthcoming 5000-qubit system, Advantage (yes the name choice isn’t serendipity), at its user conference being held this week in Newport, RI. Read more…

By John Russell

DARPA Looks to Propel Parallelism

September 4, 2019

As Moore’s law runs out of steam, new programming approaches are being pursued with the goal of greater hardware performance with less coding. The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency is launching a new programming effort aimed at leveraging the benefits of massive distributed parallelism with less sweat. Read more…

By George Leopold

Ayar Labs to Demo Photonics Chiplet in FPGA Package at Hot Chips

August 19, 2019

Silicon startup Ayar Labs continues to gain momentum with its DARPA-backed optical chiplet technology that puts advanced electronics and optics on the same chip Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC19: IBM Changes Its HPC-AI Game Plan

November 25, 2019

It’s probably fair to say IBM is known for big bets. Summit supercomputer – a big win. Red Hat acquisition – looking like a big win. OpenPOWER and Power processors – jury’s out? At SC19, long-time IBMer Dave Turek sketched out a different kind of bet for Big Blue – a small ball strategy, if you’ll forgive the baseball analogy... Read more…

By John Russell

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing compon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Crystal Ball Gazing: IBM’s Vision for the Future of Computing

October 14, 2019

Dario Gil, IBM’s relatively new director of research, painted a intriguing portrait of the future of computing along with a rough idea of how IBM thinks we’ Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Debuts New GPU – Ponte Vecchio – and Outlines Aspirations for oneAPI

November 17, 2019

Intel today revealed a few more details about its forthcoming Xe line of GPUs – the top SKU is named Ponte Vecchio and will be used in Aurora, the first plann Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

SC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

AMD
AMD
CEJN
CJEN
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
SIX NINES IT
SIX NINES IT
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL
WEKAIO
WEKAIO

Kubernetes, Containers and HPC

September 19, 2019

Software containers and Kubernetes are important tools for building, deploying, running and managing modern enterprise applications at scale and delivering enterprise software faster and more reliably to the end user — while using resources more efficiently and reducing costs. Read more…

By Daniel Gruber, Burak Yenier and Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud

Dell Ramps Up HPC Testing of AMD Rome Processors

October 21, 2019

Dell Technologies is wading deeper into the AMD-based systems market with a growing evaluation program for the latest Epyc (Rome) microprocessors from AMD. In a Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC19: Welcome to Denver

November 17, 2019

A significant swath of the HPC community has come to Denver for SC19, which began today (Sunday) with a rich technical program. As is customary, the ribbon cutt Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

When Dense Matrix Representations Beat Sparse

September 9, 2019

In our world filled with unintended consequences, it turns out that saving memory space to help deal with GPU limitations, knowing it introduces performance pen Read more…

By James Reinders

With the Help of HPC, Astronomers Prepare to Deflect a Real Asteroid

September 26, 2019

For years, NASA has been running simulations of asteroid impacts to understand the risks (and likelihoods) of asteroids colliding with Earth. Now, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are preparing for the next, crucial step in planetary defense against asteroid impacts: physically deflecting a real asteroid. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Cerebras to Supply DOE with Wafer-Scale AI Supercomputing Technology

September 17, 2019

Cerebras Systems, which debuted its wafer-scale AI silicon at Hot Chips last month, has entered into a multi-year partnership with Argonne National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as part of a larger collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Jensen Huang’s SC19 – Fast Cars, a Strong Arm, and Aiming for the Cloud(s)

November 20, 2019

We’ve come to expect Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang’s annual SC keynote to contain stunning graphics and lively bravado (with plenty of examples) in support of GPU 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