Think Fast: IBM Talks Acceleration in HPC and the Enterprise

By John Russell

November 16, 2015

At SC15 today, IBM provided a glimpse of its broadening vision for accelerator-assisted computing with announcements around Watson, a strategic alliance with FPGA specialist Xilinx, an expanded developer outreach via the SuperVessel program, and new efforts to accelerate the datacenter and a wide variety of applications used in both HPC and the enterprise.

“Accelerators have come to play a dominant role in HPC and we believe the notion of an accelerated datacenter is beginning to creep into the enterprise and will become a dominant factor,” Sumit Gupta, vice president, HPC and OpenPOWER operations at IBM told HPCwire. The IBM vision encompasses roles for both GPU- and FPGA- accelerated systems integrated with OpenPOWER architecture and taking advantage of CAPI interface. Gupta outlined what he called an ambitious three-pronged effort to accelerate computing, storage and networking.

GPUs, of course, have proven very powerful in HPC. More than 100 of the TOP500 machines from the list announced this morning rely on GPU acceleration, accounting for a total 143 petaflops – more than one-third of the list’s total FLOPS. NVIDIA Tesla GPU-based supercomputers comprise 70 of these systems – including 23 of the 24 new systems on the list.

Accelerators.TOP500.SC15As shown here the mix of accelerators powering the TOP500 is growing (source: Top500). With Moore’s Law topping out, IBM is betting accelerators, both GPUs and FPGAs, will become pivotal to improving performance not only for traditional HPC applications, but also for big data and data analytics challenges.

As part of the barrage of accelerator news, IBM noted for the first time that Watson, IBM’s “cognitive computing” platform, has been accelerated with NVIDIA Tesla K80 GPUs coupled to Watson’s POWER-based architecture. According to IBM, Watson’s retrieve and rank API capability is now 1.7x of its normal speed and Watson’s processing power up to 10x its prior performance according.

Other important bullet points include:

  • Newest OpenPOWER Platinum member Xilinx and IBM have a multi-year strategic collaboration to develop and market a series of data center and network function virtualization (NFV) solutions with systems, software, and management components around Xilinx FPGA accelerators. Solutions will focus on emerging workloads including high performance computing, cognitive computing, machine learning, genomics and big data analytics.
  • IBM reiterated Mellanox support of CAPI with its earlier release of the world’s first smart network switch, the Switch-IB 2, capable of delivering clients 10x system performance improvement. NEC announced availability of its ExpEther Technology that is also suited for POWER architecture-based systems, along with plans to leverage IBM’s CAPI technology in 2016.
  • OpenPOWER members, E4 Computer Engineering and Penguin Computing, announced new systems based on the OpenPOWER architecture and incorporating POWER8 and NVIDIA Tesla GPU accelerators.
  • IBM has ported a series of key IBM Internet of Things, Spark, Big Data and Cognitive Era applications to take advantage of the POWER architecture with accelerators.

As part of the IBM and Xilinx strategic collaboration, IBM Systems Group developers will create solution stacks for POWER-based servers, storage and middleware systems with Xilinx FPGA accelerators for data center architectures such as OpenStack, Docker, and Spark. IBM will also develop and qualify Xilinx accelerator boards into IBM Power Systems servers. Xilinx is developing and will release POWER-based versions of its leading software defined SDAccel Development Environment and libraries for the OpenPOWER developer community.

IBM suggests that as heterogeneous workloads have become increasingly prevalent, data centers are turning to application accelerators to keep up with the demands for throughput and latency at low power. Xilinx FPGAs, reports IBM, can deliver the power efficiency that makes accelerators practical to deploy throughout the data center.

SumitGupta_120x168Gupta couldn’t resist taking a swipe at Intel. “The difference between our platform and the x86 platform is that we actually partner with Xilinx and NVIDIA to build tightly integrated interfaces like CAPI and NVlink and put our investments together to come to market with an open collaborative solutions. This is in stark contrast to [the] competing solution which is completely closed, proprietary, and all designed from one vendor.”

The war of words aside, it will be interesting to watch the competing approaches play out. IBM and the OpenPOWER favor a multiple discrete component approach that is optimized and tightly glued together through collaborative design. Intel is betting that bringing these functions together under one roof, and mostly in silicon, will end up delivering higher performance. No doubt both have advantages. Stay tuned.

Commenting on the expanding role of FPGAs and GPUs, Gupta said IBM sees the two technologies as complementary. Some workloads such as deep learning and model training are currently best suited for GPUs, he said. Conversely, once the model is set and objects identified, FPGAs can handle those workloads well.

He added IBM is seeing more use of FPGAs in a variety of workloads – genomics is one – and network processing is another. The latter permits use of a standard server with FPGA-based specialization rather than the use of distinct dedicated boxes for differing network applications such as security or packet processing. Network virtualization will significantly benefit from FPGAs, he said.

Currently, IBM is working on accelerating a wide range of applications. “We have an accelerated storage solution [in which] we connect our flash using CAPI to the POWER system [which] is very useful to accelerate NoSQL database applications, which are basically analytics,” Gupta said. He pointed to Apache Spark and NoSQL databases Redis and Neo4j as examples of application acceleration being undertaken by IBM.

Obviously, getting OpenPOWER systems with accelerators into the hands of developers is a necessary part of IBM’s strategy. To that end, IBM reported expanding GPU services on SuperVessel, the global cloud-based OpenPOWER ecosystem resource launched in June and initially based only in China. SuperVessel now provides GPU-accelerated computing as-a-service capabilities, giving users access to high-performance NVIDIA Tesla GPUs to enable Caffe, Torch and Theano deep-learning frameworks to instantaneously launch from the SuperVessel cloud.

“We are also announcing a new SuperVessel system that will serve North America and Europe. This will dramatically increase developer access,” said Gupta. As part of the expansion, Xilinx and IBM have developed a new FPGA accelerator service on SuperVessel that makes coherent reconfigurable accelerators available to developers via the cloud. By enabling high-level language programming like C, C++ and OpenCL, Xilinx and IBM are attempting to dramatically expand how users leverage FPGAs in the cloud for innovation on applications like machine learning, big data analytics and HPC.

IBM is also adding developer resources at the University of Texas and Oregon State University aimed at the academic research community, “but which anyone can apply for” said Gupta. He noted IBM has already developed proof-point case studies such as one based on work at Baylor College, which used accelerators and a Power system for genomics applications.

  • The Baylor team, led by geneticist and computer scientist Erez Lieberman Aiden, developed a new procedure to modify how a human genome is arranged in three dimensions in the nucleus of a cell. The work was done using a Power System accelerated with NVIDIA Tesla GPUs and Mellanox network infrastructure “to build a 3-D map of the human genome and model the reaction of the genome to this surgical procedure, without disturbing the surrounding DNA.”
  • At OSU, the Open Source Lab (OSUOSL) has increased the footprint of POWER8-based systems in their existing OpenStack cluster with additional compute and memory capacity. The expansion significantly increases the number of distinct users OSUOSL can support for research and development on OpenPOWER/OpenStack infrastructures.

IBM logoIBM offered another bit of evidence for OpenPOWER Foundation’s gathering momentum: new member Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at University of Texas at Austin, and IBM announced a POWER8 accelerated computing cluster to be made available to academic researchers and developers. The new cluster is currently running successfully in an early user mode, and will begin accepting requests for access this week.

On balance, today’s IBM news was all about the rise of accelerator-assisted computing and IBM’s embrace of it, including its steady march into the enterprise.

“There is a need for systems that provide greater speed to insight — for data and analytics workloads to help businesses and organization make sense of the data, to outthink competitors as we usher in a new era of Cognitive Computing,” said Brad McCredie, IBM Fellow and OpenPOWER Foundation President. “IBM and our more than 160 partners in the OpenPOWER Foundation are on the forefront driving the changes necessary for innovation at all levels of the technology stack, including the development the industry’s first open, high-speed interconnects between processors and accelerators.”

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!

University of Stuttgart Inaugurates ‘Hawk’ Supercomputer

February 20, 2020

This week, the new “Hawk” supercomputer was inaugurated in a ceremony at the High-Performance Computing Center of the University of Stuttgart (HLRS). Officials, scientists and other stakeholders celebrated the new sy Read more…

By Staff report

US to Triple Its Supercomputing Capacity for Weather and Climate with Two New Crays

February 20, 2020

The blizzard of news around the race for weather and climate supercomputing leadership continues. Just three days after the UK announced a £1.2 billion plan to build the world’s largest weather and climate supercomputer, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Indiana University Researchers Use Supercomputing to Model the State’s Largest Watershed

February 20, 2020

With water stressors on the rise, understanding and protecting water supplies is more important than ever. Now, a team of researchers from Indiana University has created a new climate change data portal to help Indianans Read more…

By Staff report

TACC – Supporting Portable, Reproducible, Computational Science with Containers

February 20, 2020

Researchers who use supercomputers for science typically don't limit themselves to one system. They move their projects to whatever resources are available, often using many different systems simultaneously, in their lab Read more…

By Aaron Dubrow

China Researchers Set Distance Record in Quantum Memory Entanglement

February 20, 2020

Efforts to develop the necessary capabilities for building a practical ‘quantum-based’ internet have been ongoing for years. One of the biggest challenges is being able to maintain and manage entanglement of remote q Read more…

By John Russell

AWS Solution Channel

Challenging the barriers to High Performance Computing in the Cloud

Cloud computing helps democratize High Performance Computing by placing powerful computational capabilities in the hands of more researchers, engineers, and organizations who may lack access to sufficient on-premises infrastructure. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Intelligent HPC – Keeping Hard Work at Bay(es)

Since the dawn of time, humans have looked for ways to make their lives easier. Over the centuries human ingenuity has given us inventions such as the wheel and simple machines – which help greatly with tasks that would otherwise be extremely laborious. Read more…

New Algorithm Allows PCs to Challenge HPC in Weather Forecasting

February 19, 2020

Accurate weather forecasting has, by and large, been situated squarely in the domain of high-performance computing – just this week, the UK announced a nearly $1.6 billion investment in the world’s largest supercompu Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

US to Triple Its Supercomputing Capacity for Weather and Climate with Two New Crays

February 20, 2020

The blizzard of news around the race for weather and climate supercomputing leadership continues. Just three days after the UK announced a £1.2 billion plan to build the world’s largest weather and climate supercomputer, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Japan’s AIST Benchmarks Intel Optane; Cites Benefit for HPC and AI

February 19, 2020

Last April Intel released its Optane Data Center Persistent Memory Module (DCPMM) – byte addressable nonvolatile memory – to increase main memory capacity a Read more…

By John Russell

UK Announces £1.2 Billion Weather and Climate Supercomputer

February 19, 2020

While the planet is heating up, so is the race for global leadership in weather and climate computing. In a bombshell announcement, the UK government revealed p Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

The Massive GPU Cloudburst Experiment Plays a Smaller, More Productive Encore

February 13, 2020

In November, researchers at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and the IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center (WIPAC) set out to break the internet – or Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Eni to Retake Industry HPC Crown with Launch of HPC5

February 12, 2020

With the launch of its Dell-built HPC5 system, Italian energy company Eni regains its position atop the industrial supercomputing leaderboard. At 52-petaflops p Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Trump Budget Proposal Again Slashes Science Spending

February 11, 2020

President Donald Trump’s FY2021 U.S. Budget, submitted to Congress this week, again slashes science spending. It’s a $4.8 trillion statement of priorities, Read more…

By John Russell

Policy: Republicans Eye Bigger Science Budgets; NSF Celebrates 70th, Names Idea Machine Winners

February 5, 2020

It’s a busy week for science policy. Yesterday, the National Science Foundation announced winners of its 2026 Idea Machine contest seeking directions for futu Read more…

By John Russell

Fujitsu A64FX Supercomputer to Be Deployed at Nagoya University This Summer

February 3, 2020

Japanese tech giant Fujitsu announced today that it will supply Nagoya University Information Technology Center with the first commercial supercomputer powered Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Julia Programming’s Dramatic Rise in HPC and Elsewhere

January 14, 2020

Back in 2012 a paper by four computer scientists including Alan Edelman of MIT introduced Julia, A Fast Dynamic Language for Technical Computing. At the time, t 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

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

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

IBM Unveils Latest Achievements in AI Hardware

December 13, 2019

“The increased capabilities of contemporary AI models provide unprecedented recognition accuracy, but often at the expense of larger computational and energet Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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

Fujitsu A64FX Supercomputer to Be Deployed at Nagoya University This Summer

February 3, 2020

Japanese tech giant Fujitsu announced today that it will supply Nagoya University Information Technology Center with the first commercial supercomputer powered Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

51,000 Cloud GPUs Converge to Power Neutrino Discovery at the South Pole

November 22, 2019

At the dead center of the South Pole, thousands of sensors spanning a cubic kilometer are buried thousands of meters beneath the ice. The sensors are part of Ic Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Leading Solution Providers

SC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

AMD
AMD
ASROCK RACK
ASROCK RACK
AWS
AWS
CEJN
CJEN
CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
IBM
IBM
MELLANOX
MELLANOX
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
SIX NINES IT
SIX NINES IT
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL
WEKAIO
WEKAIO

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

Top500: US Maintains Performance Lead; Arm Tops Green500

November 18, 2019

The 54th Top500, revealed today at SC19, is a familiar list: the U.S. Summit (ORNL) and Sierra (LLNL) machines, offering 148.6 and 94.6 petaflops respectively, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Azure Cloud First with AMD Epyc Rome Processors

November 6, 2019

At Ignite 2019 this week, Microsoft's Azure cloud team and AMD announced an expansion of their partnership that began in 2017 when Azure debuted Epyc-backed instances for storage workloads. The fourth-generation Azure D-series and E-series virtual machines previewed at the Rome launch in August are now generally available. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

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

In Memoriam: Steve Tuecke, Globus Co-founder

November 4, 2019

HPCwire is deeply saddened to report that Steve Tuecke, longtime scientist at Argonne National Lab and University of Chicago, has passed away at age 52. Tuecke Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Debuts IC922 Power Server for AI Inferencing and Data Management

January 28, 2020

IBM today launched a Power9-based inference server – the IC922 – that features up to six Nvidia T4 GPUs, PCIe Gen 4 and OpenCAPI connectivity, and can accom Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Debuts ClusterStor E1000 Finishing Remake of Portfolio for ‘Exascale Era’

October 30, 2019

Cray, now owned by HPE, today introduced the ClusterStor E1000 storage platform, which leverages Cray software and mixes hard disk drives (HDD) and flash memory 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