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!

At Long Last, Supercomputing Helps to Map the Poles

August 22, 2019

For years,” Paul Morin wrote, “those of us that made maps of the Poles apologized. We apologized for the blank spaces on maps, we apologized for mountains being in the wrong place... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Xilinx Says Its New FPGA is World’s Largest

August 21, 2019

In this age of exploding “technology disaggregation” – in which the Big Bang emanating from the Intel x86 CPU has produced significant advances in CPU chips and a raft of alternative, accelerated architectures... Read more…

By Doug Black

Supercomputers Generate Universes to Illuminate Galactic Formation

August 20, 2019

With advanced imaging and satellite technologies, it’s easier than ever to see a galaxy – but understanding how they form (a process that can take billions of years) is a different story. Now, a team of researchers f Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Solution Channel

Efficiency and Cost-Optimization for HPC Workloads – AWS Batch and Amazon EC2 Spot Instances

High Performance Computing on AWS leverages the power of cloud computing and the extreme scale it offers to achieve optimal HPC price/performance. With AWS you can right size your services to meet exactly the capacity requirements you need without having to overprovision or compromise capacity. Read more…

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Bring the combined power of HPC and AI to your business transformation

FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) acceleration cards are not new, as they’ve been commercially available since 1984. Typically, the emphasis around FPGAs has centered on the fact that they’re programmable accelerators, and that they can truly offer workload specific hardware acceleration solutions without requiring custom silicon. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Keys to Attracting the Newest HPC Talent – Post-Millennials

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

For engineers and scientists growing up in the 80s, the current state of HPC makes perfect sense. Read more…

Singularity Moves Up the Container Value Chain

August 20, 2019

The enterprise version of the Singularity HPC container platform released this week by Sylabs is designed to allow users to create, secure and share the high-end containers in self-hosted production deployments. The e Read more…

By George Leopold

At Long Last, Supercomputing Helps to Map the Poles

August 22, 2019

For years,” Paul Morin wrote, “those of us that made maps of the Poles apologized. We apologized for the blank spaces on maps, we apologized for mountains being in the wrong place... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

IBM Deepens Plunge into Open Source; OpenPOWER to Join Linux Foundation

August 20, 2019

IBM today announced it was contributing the instruction set (ISA) for its Power microprocessor and the designs for the Open Coherent Accelerator Processor Inter Read more…

By John Russell

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

Scientists to Tap Exascale Computing to Unlock the Mystery of our Accelerating Universe

August 14, 2019

The universe and everything in it roared to life with the Big Bang approximately 13.8 billion years ago. It has continued expanding ever since. While we have a Read more…

By Rob Johnson

AI is the Next Exascale – Rick Stevens on What that Means and Why It’s Important

August 13, 2019

Twelve years ago the Department of Energy (DOE) was just beginning to explore what an exascale computing program might look like and what it might accomplish. Today, DOE is repeating that process for AI, once again starting with science community town halls to gather input and stimulate conversation. The town hall program... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader and 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

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Lenovo Drives Single-Socket Servers with AMD Epyc Rome CPUs

August 7, 2019

No summer doldrums here. As part of the AMD Epyc Rome launch event in San Francisco today, Lenovo announced two new single-socket servers, the ThinkSystem SR635 Read more…

By Doug Black

High Performance (Potato) Chips

May 5, 2006

In this article, we focus on how Procter & Gamble is using high performance computing to create some common, everyday supermarket products. Tom Lange, a 27-year veteran of the company, tells us how P&G models products, processes and production systems for the betterment of consumer package goods. Read more…

By Michael Feldman

Supercomputer-Powered AI Tackles a Key Fusion Energy Challenge

August 7, 2019

Fusion energy is the Holy Grail of the energy world: low-radioactivity, low-waste, zero-carbon, high-output nuclear power that can run on hydrogen or lithium. T Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Cray, AMD to Extend DOE’s Exascale Frontier

May 7, 2019

Cray and AMD are coming back to Oak Ridge National Laboratory to partner on the world’s largest and most expensive supercomputer. The Department of Energy’s Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Graphene Surprises Again, This Time for Quantum Computing

May 8, 2019

Graphene is fascinating stuff with promise for use in a seeming endless number of applications. This month researchers from the University of Vienna and Institu Read more…

By John Russell

AMD Verifies Its Largest 7nm Chip Design in Ten Hours

June 5, 2019

AMD announced last week that its engineers had successfully executed the first physical verification of its largest 7nm chip design – in just ten hours. The AMD Radeon Instinct Vega20 – which boasts 13.2 billion transistors – was tested using a TSMC-certified Calibre nmDRC software platform from Mentor. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

TSMC and Samsung Moving to 5nm; Whither Moore’s Law?

June 12, 2019

With reports that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TMSC) and Samsung are moving quickly to 5nm manufacturing, it’s a good time to again ponder whither goes the venerable Moore’s law. Shrinking feature size has of course been the primary hallmark of achieving Moore’s law... 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

Deep Learning Competitors Stalk Nvidia

May 14, 2019

There is no shortage of processing architectures emerging to accelerate deep learning workloads, with two more options emerging this week to challenge GPU leader Nvidia. First, Intel researchers claimed a new deep learning record for image classification on the ResNet-50 convolutional neural network. Separately, Israeli AI chip startup Hailo.ai... Read more…

By George Leopold

Leading Solution Providers

ISC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
GOOGLE
GOOGLE
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL

Nvidia Embraces Arm, Declares Intent to Accelerate All CPU Architectures

June 17, 2019

As the Top500 list was being announced at ISC in Frankfurt today with an upgraded petascale Arm supercomputer in the top third of the list, Nvidia announced its Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Top500 Purely Petaflops; US Maintains Performance Lead

June 17, 2019

With the kick-off of the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Frankfurt this morning, the 53rd Top500 list made its debut, and this one's for petafl Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Hardware That Powered the Black Hole Image

June 24, 2019

Two months ago, the first-ever image of a black hole took the internet by storm. A team of scientists took years to produce and verify the striking image – an Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Cray – and the Cray Brand – to Be Positioned at Tip of HPE’s HPC Spear

May 22, 2019

More so than with most acquisitions of this kind, HPE’s purchase of Cray for $1.3 billion, announced last week, seems to have elements of that overused, often Read more…

By Doug Black and Tiffany Trader

Chinese Company Sugon Placed on US ‘Entity List’ After Strong Showing at International Supercomputing Conference

June 26, 2019

After more than a decade of advancing its supercomputing prowess, operating the world’s most powerful supercomputer from June 2013 to June 2018, China is keep Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

In Wake of Nvidia-Mellanox: Xilinx to Acquire Solarflare

April 25, 2019

With echoes of Nvidia’s recent acquisition of Mellanox, FPGA maker Xilinx has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Solarflare Communications, provider Read more…

By Doug Black

Qualcomm Invests in RISC-V Startup SiFive

June 7, 2019

Investors are zeroing in on the open standard RISC-V instruction set architecture and the processor intellectual property being developed by a batch of high-flying chip startups. Last fall, Esperanto Technologies announced a $58 million funding round. Read more…

By George Leopold

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