NASA Pushes Long-Range Climate Model Limits with SGI

By Nicole Hemsoth

November 17, 2014

The Discover system at NASA’s Center for Climate Simulation was designed with scalability and flexibility in mind, starting with its original nodes in 2006 and consistently evolving and growing with new hardware to handle the computational and data demands of complex long-term climate models.

In total, with the individual scalable units, the supercomputer is a combination of mostly IBM racks with some Dell and SuperMicro in the mix, culminate in just over a petaflop at peak across the over 43,000 cores.

But for this center, it’s out with the old and in with the new for around one-quarter to one-third of the system each year. The spare nodes are shipped off to be used in other research projects, leaving Dan Duffy, High Performance Computing Lead for NASA and his team with a revolving chain of decisions. For this round of system upgrades, they moved away from their IBM-heavy approach and looked to SGI’s Rackable line for memory, power, and CPU balance.

In the latest upgrade round, the team removed 1200 nodes from Discover or about 14,000 cores—the equivalent of roughly 150 teraflops of compute that was installed in 2010. Now, in the same footprint and power envelope, the new 18 racks they are receiving from SGI offers more performance (over a petaflop peak) and 30,000 cores for 1000 nodes. This upgrade represents almost an 8x performance boost in the same space when compared to what was available four years ago.

The key to these efficiencies are inside SGI’s Rackable cluster line, which for NCCS means 1.9 petaflops of capability powered by the Xeon E5-2696 v3 processors fed with a non-blocking fat tree FDR interconnect from Mellanox. Duffy said that while it was tempting to hold off and wait for EDR, especially since these applications are between 30-40% message passing, they needed the system up and running right away.

Further, Duffy added that if they were going to delay to have EDR in the machine, there are some key technologies coming in the future that are also worth the wait. While he and his team have been experimenting with both GPUs and Xeon Phis for some time, there’s still a great deal of code work to be done. He said that they’re keenly interested in where Knight’s Landing will take their workloads and are taking a particular shine to 64-bit ARM, if for no other reason than what it will mean for the competitive processor ecosystem.

“A couple of years ago we explored the Phi and made good progress but our results show that its performance is the same we can get in a node for this application. With GPUs, we upgraded to the NVIDIA K40, but the numbers are low. Our goal is to keep developing the applications to exploit manycore and hybrid core architectures. We’re interested in getting our hands on Knights Landing and comparing that to Haswell and eventually Broadwell. In a separate project we do a climate model on Power systems as well.”

When one takes into account the workload across this scalable architecture at NASA, it’s clear how important the CPU to data to storage balance is. The main application for complex long-range climate modeling is called GEOS-5, which integrates multiple models using the Earth System Modeling Framework—itself a beast in terms of computational requirements and complexity. Duffy says that to date, teams have been able to scaled past 30,000 cores. While right now they’re just running this at NCCS on roughly 8,000 cores, the plan is to take to its full heights with the SGI system. “It’s no small task,” laughed Duffy. “We are simulating the climate for a long amount of time at very high resolution. On top of that, there’s a 2 year run of this to look at the next generation of earth observing instruments to validate the work happening with that. That 2-year simulation is at a 7 km resolution and has generated 5PB of data.

This means that aside from raw compute and the critical FDR interconnect backbone, memory and storage are other considerations. In addition to the benchmarks that NASA uses for these applications to test everything from message passing to generalized performance, the memory footprint needed strong consideration. Duffy said that while he certainly isn’t at liberty to endorse any particular vendor, the SGI benchmark results delivered across all of these areas for this particular application area, opening new doors for the company, which just rolled out yet another line of HPC systems targeted at other workloads and featuring next generation Xeon E5-2600 v3 processors as well as a new UV system for data-intensive workloads that is based on the Xeon E7-8800 v2 processors, the capability to snap in GPUs and Xeon Phis, and most interestingly, the seventh generation of their NUMAlink technology which is arguably the true differentiating factor for SGI at the high end. We’ll be talking shortly with Dr. Goh about these new systems and their path forward with customers like NASA, who according to Duffy, are looking beyond standard rack systems and into a future that could include emerging technologies they’re watching on the processor, memory (specifically the HP Memristor, he says), and storage sides.

Computational story aside, at the end of the day, what Duffy and his systems are providing, are a glimpse into detailed, long-range climate narratives that will offer a first glimpse into how the planet’s climate has evolved from Paleolithic times until the present.

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!

The New Scalability

April 20, 2021

HPC is all about scalability. The most powerful systems. The biggest data sets. The most cores, the most bytes, the most flops, the most bandwidth. HPC scales! Notwithstanding a few recurring arguments over the last t Read more…

Supercomputer-Powered Climate Model Makes Startling Sea Level Rise Prediction

April 19, 2021

The climate science community is tasked with striking a difficult balance: inspiring precisely the amount of alarm commensurate to the climate crisis. Make estimates that are too conservative, and the public might not re Read more…

San Diego Supercomputer Center Opens ‘Expanse’ to Industry Users

April 15, 2021

When San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California San Diego was getting ready to deploy its flagship Expanse supercomputer for the large research community it supports, it also sought to optimize Read more…

GTC21: Dell Building Cloud Native Supercomputers at U Cambridge and Durham

April 14, 2021

In conjunction with GTC21, Dell Technologies today announced new supercomputers at universities across DiRAC (Distributed Research utilizing Advanced Computing) in the UK with plans to explore use of Nvidia BlueField DPU technology. The University of Cambridge will expand... Read more…

The Role and Potential of CPUs in Deep Learning

April 14, 2021

Deep learning (DL) applications have unique architectural characteristics and efficiency requirements. Hence, the choice of computing system has a profound impact on how large a piece of the DL pie a user can finally enj Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Research computing with RONIN on AWS

To allow more visibility into and management of Amazon Web Services (AWS) resources and expenses and minimize the cloud skills training required to operate these resources, AWS Partner RONIN created the RONIN research computing platform. Read more…

GTC21: Nvidia Launches cuQuantum; Dips a Toe in Quantum Computing

April 13, 2021

Yesterday Nvidia officially dipped a toe into quantum computing with the launch of cuQuantum SDK, a development platform for simulating quantum circuits on GPU-accelerated systems. As Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang emphasized in his keynote, Nvidia doesn’t plan to build... Read more…

The New Scalability

April 20, 2021

HPC is all about scalability. The most powerful systems. The biggest data sets. The most cores, the most bytes, the most flops, the most bandwidth. HPC scales! Read more…

San Diego Supercomputer Center Opens ‘Expanse’ to Industry Users

April 15, 2021

When San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California San Diego was getting ready to deploy its flagship Expanse supercomputer for the larg Read more…

GTC21: Dell Building Cloud Native Supercomputers at U Cambridge and Durham

April 14, 2021

In conjunction with GTC21, Dell Technologies today announced new supercomputers at universities across DiRAC (Distributed Research utilizing Advanced Computing) in the UK with plans to explore use of Nvidia BlueField DPU technology. The University of Cambridge will expand... Read more…

The Role and Potential of CPUs in Deep Learning

April 14, 2021

Deep learning (DL) applications have unique architectural characteristics and efficiency requirements. Hence, the choice of computing system has a profound impa Read more…

GTC21: Nvidia Launches cuQuantum; Dips a Toe in Quantum Computing

April 13, 2021

Yesterday Nvidia officially dipped a toe into quantum computing with the launch of cuQuantum SDK, a development platform for simulating quantum circuits on GPU-accelerated systems. As Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang emphasized in his keynote, Nvidia doesn’t plan to build... Read more…

Nvidia Aims Clara Healthcare at Drug Discovery, Imaging via DGX

April 12, 2021

Nvidia Corp. continues to expand its Clara healthcare platform with the addition of computational drug discovery and medical imaging tools based on its DGX A100 platform, related InfiniBand networking and its AGX developer kit. The Clara partnerships announced during... Read more…

Nvidia Serves Up Its First Arm Datacenter CPU ‘Grace’ During Kitchen Keynote

April 12, 2021

Today at Nvidia’s annual spring GPU Technology Conference (GTC), held virtually once more due to the pandemic, the company unveiled its first ever Arm-based CPU, called Grace in honor of the famous American programmer Grace Hopper. The announcement of the new... Read more…

Nvidia Debuts BlueField-3 – Its Next DPU with Big Plans for an Expanded Role

April 12, 2021

Nvidia today announced its next generation data processing unit (DPU) – BlueField-3 – adding more substance to its evolving concept of the DPU as a full-fledged partner to CPUs and GPUs in delivering advanced computing. Nvidia is pitching the DPU as an active engine... Read more…

Julia Update: Adoption Keeps Climbing; Is It a Python Challenger?

January 13, 2021

The rapid adoption of Julia, the open source, high level programing language with roots at MIT, shows no sign of slowing according to data from Julialang.org. I Read more…

Intel Launches 10nm ‘Ice Lake’ Datacenter CPU with Up to 40 Cores

April 6, 2021

The wait is over. Today Intel officially launched its 10nm datacenter CPU, the third-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor, codenamed Ice Lake. With up to 40 Read more…

CERN Is Betting Big on Exascale

April 1, 2021

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) involves 23 countries, 15,000 researchers, billions of dollars a year, and the biggest machine in the worl Read more…

Programming the Soon-to-Be World’s Fastest Supercomputer, Frontier

January 5, 2021

What’s it like designing an app for the world’s fastest supercomputer, set to come online in the United States in 2021? The University of Delaware’s Sunita Chandrasekaran is leading an elite international team in just that task. Chandrasekaran, assistant professor of computer and information sciences, recently was named... Read more…

HPE Launches Storage Line Loaded with IBM’s Spectrum Scale File System

April 6, 2021

HPE today launched a new family of storage solutions bundled with IBM’s Spectrum Scale Erasure Code Edition parallel file system (description below) and featu Read more…

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

Saudi Aramco Unveils Dammam 7, Its New Top Ten Supercomputer

January 21, 2021

By revenue, oil and gas giant Saudi Aramco is one of the largest companies in the world, and it has historically employed commensurate amounts of supercomputing Read more…

Quantum Computer Start-up IonQ Plans IPO via SPAC

March 8, 2021

IonQ, a Maryland-based quantum computing start-up working with ion trap technology, plans to go public via a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) merger a Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Can Deep Learning Replace Numerical Weather Prediction?

March 3, 2021

Numerical weather prediction (NWP) is a mainstay of supercomputing. Some of the first applications of the first supercomputers dealt with climate modeling, and Read more…

Livermore’s El Capitan Supercomputer to Debut HPE ‘Rabbit’ Near Node Local Storage

February 18, 2021

A near node local storage innovation called Rabbit factored heavily into Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s decision to select Cray’s proposal for its CORAL-2 machine, the lab’s first exascale-class supercomputer, El Capitan. Details of this new storage technology were revealed... Read more…

New Deep Learning Algorithm Solves Rubik’s Cube

July 25, 2018

Solving (and attempting to solve) Rubik’s Cube has delighted millions of puzzle lovers since 1974 when the cube was invented by Hungarian sculptor and archite Read more…

African Supercomputing Center Inaugurates ‘Toubkal,’ Most Powerful Supercomputer on the Continent

February 25, 2021

Historically, Africa hasn’t exactly been synonymous with supercomputing. There are only a handful of supercomputers on the continent, with few ranking on the Read more…

AMD Launches Epyc ‘Milan’ with 19 SKUs for HPC, Enterprise and Hyperscale

March 15, 2021

At a virtual launch event held today (Monday), AMD revealed its third-generation Epyc “Milan” CPU lineup: a set of 19 SKUs -- including the flagship 64-core, 280-watt 7763 part --  aimed at HPC, enterprise and cloud workloads. Notably, the third-gen Epyc Milan chips achieve 19 percent... Read more…

The History of Supercomputing vs. COVID-19

March 9, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a greater challenge to the high-performance computing community than any before. HPCwire's coverage of the supercomputing response t Read more…

HPE Names Justin Hotard New HPC Chief as Pete Ungaro Departs

March 2, 2021

HPE CEO Antonio Neri announced today (March 2, 2021) the appointment of Justin Hotard as general manager of HPC, mission critical solutions and labs, effective Read more…

Microsoft, HPE Bringing AI, Edge, Cloud to Earth Orbit in Preparation for Mars Missions

February 12, 2021

The International Space Station will soon get a delivery of powerful AI, edge and cloud computing tools from HPE and Microsoft Azure to expand technology experi Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire