TOP500 Reanalysis Shows ‘Nothing Wrong with Moore’s Law’

By Tiffany Trader

November 20, 2015

In Tuesday night’s TOP500 session, list co-creator and co-author Erich Strohmaier brought perspective to what could at first appear to be a land grab of unprecedented scale by China, when he shared that many of these new entrants were mid-lifecycle systems that were just now being benchmarked. But what is likely to be even more revealing is his reanalysis of what the TOP500 says about the apparent health of Moore’s law. Could Intel be right about this after all? And that’s not the only common wisdom that got trounced. Accelerator growth also came under scrutiny. Let’s dive in.

Joined onstage by his co-authors Horst Simon, Jack Dongarra and Martin Meuer, as well as HLRS research scientist Vladimir Marjanovic who would also present, Dr. Strohmaier, head of the Future Technologies Group at Berkeley Lab, began with a review of the top ten, which taken as a set comprise the most mature crop of elite iron in the list’s history. There were two new entrants to that camp, both Crays: the first-part of the Trinity install for Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories with 8.1 petaflops LINPACK; and the Hazel-Hen system, installed at the HLRS in Germany, the most powerful PRACE machine with 5.6 petaflops LINPACK at number eight.

The biggest change on this November’s list was the number of systems from China — 109 installed systems up from 37 in July — cementing’s China’s number two in system share behind the United States, which only managed a list market share of 40 percent, down from a typical 50-60 percent footprint.

TOP500 SC15 Performance of Countries

But what Strohmaier said he likes to look at more than pure system share is aggregate installed performance of systems, which provides a ranking of peak systems by size, filtering out the effect you might have from a lot of small systems.

“If you look instead at the development of installed performance over time, you see the last ten years that China had had a tremendous increase in terms of installed performance,” Strohmaier remarked. “It is just ahead of Japan now — clearly the second most important geographic region in terms of installed capability, but it’s not nearly as close to US [as when looking at number of systems].”

Going one step further, the list author clarified that the systems installed in China are actually on the small size, excepting their flagship Tianhe-2, the 33.86 petaflops supercomputer, developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology, which has been sitting in the number one spot for six list iterations.

“China has had a tremendous run in the last decade,” Strohmaier observed, “and it’s continuing, but it’s not as dramatic as a simple system count would suggest.”

By number of systems, HP clearly is dominant in terms of market share. Cray is number two, and third is Sugon, the surprise company on the list. Sugon has 49 systems on the latest TOP500 system, a 9.8 percent system share. As the TOP500 list co-author discussed during the TOP500 BoF, Sugon’s story from a performance perspective looks a little different. The company captured over 21 petaflops for a 5 percent market share, which positions them in seventh place, below Cray (25 percent), IBM (15 percent), HP (13 percent), NUDT (9 percent), SGI (7 percent), and Fujitsu (also rounded to 5 percent – but with a slightly higher 22 petaflops).

Strohmaier went on to make the point that Sugon is new to the TOP500 and had to learn how to run the LINPACK benchmark and submit to the list. The company increased its list share from 5 on the previous listing to 49 systems – since one fell off, that means 45 systems were added.

“Sugon really took the effort, and the energy and the work and ran the benchmark on all their installations, regardless of how well or badly they performed and gave us the number,” said Strohmaier, “They went to great length to figure out where they are in terms of supercomputing, in terms of what the systems can do and in terms of where they’ll be in the statistics.”

He gave due to the company and the individuals within it that made this possible. “Sugon is now number three, while before it had very little list presence,” he added.

The kicker here, however, is that these are not new systems, which really would be an extraordinary feat if they were. “Many of the additions are … two to three years old, which had never been measured or submitted until now,” Strohmaier clarified.

The list also reflects the shake-up from the IBM x86 offload to Lenovo, leaving a rather confusing four-way division represented by the following categories: IBM, Lenovo, Lenovo/IBM and IBM/Lenovo. These “artifacts” will disappear over time, but right now this arrangement that was worked out between the vendors and customers dilutes the original IBM and Lenovo categories.

Lenovo is of course a Chinese company with a mix of systems that they built and sold as well as previous IBM systems that they now hold title to. Then there’s Inspur with 15 systems, another Chinese vendor. In all, there are three Chinese companies which are now prominent in the TOP500 and that produced an influx of Chinese systems, said Strohmaier.

He went on to examine a vendor’s total FLOPS as a percentage of list share, which shows that “HP traditionally installs small systems, Cray installs large systems, and then there is Sugon, which is an exception, because they have smaller systems, thus their share of performance is much smaller.” IBM, which is closest in system share with 45 systems (mostly leftover BlueGenes), has a large market share in terms of performance because they kept custody of the large Blue Gene systems. Inspur and Lenovo both have below average list share, while Fujitsu and NUDT have much larger shares which are of course reflecting their flagship systems, K computer and Tianhe-2 respectively.

Switching back to looking at the list in general, Strohmaier addressed the low turnover of the last couple of years. Before 2008 the average system age was 1.27 years, now it’s a tick below three years, marginally better than the June list. The TOP500 author attributed this to the bolstering influence from Sugon and from the IBM-Lenovo offload. “Customers keep their systems longer than they used to; this has not changed other than that small upturn [which can be explained].”

Moore’s law is fine!

The classic slide from each list iteration is the one that shows how performance grows over time with the performance of the first, the last and the sum of the TOP500, which Strohmaier thinks of as “500 times the average.”

TOP500 SC15 Performance Development

There has been impressive growth and for many years it was very accurate for predicting future growth, but in the last few years, the inflection points have appeared, 2008 and another in 2014, where the trajectory reduces.

This raises two important questions, says Strohmaier: why is there an inflection point and why is the inflection point in two timestamps?

“The nice thing is that the old growth rate before the inflection points were the same on both lines and the new growth rates are again the same on both lines. So the one effect is clearly technology, the other, in my opinion, is financial,” noted Strohmaier.

TOP500 SC15 Projected Performance Development

In the slide that shows the projections to the end of the decade before and after the inflection point, it can be seen that a seemingly small variance results in a significant 10X differential by the end of the decade.

“So instead of having an exascale computer by 2019 as we may have predicted ten years ago; we now think it’s going to be more like the middle of the next decade,” Strohmaier stated.

“Looking into what actually happened, we have to be more careful in how we construct the basis for our statistics,” he continued. “The TOP500 is an inventory based list, new and old technology are all mixed up. If you really want to see the changes in technology on the list, you have to apply filters filter out all the new systems with new technology coming into the list and analyze that subset.”

Strohmaier filtered out all the new systems and further filtered out all systems which only use traditional superscalar processes, so Nvidia chips and no Intel Phis. The point of this exercise was to tease out the track of traditional processor technology.

This is the result:

TOP500 SC15 Tech Trends Scalar Processors - Moore's Law is fine

Strohmaier:

What you see is that the performance per core has taken a dramatic hit around 2005-2006, but it was compensated by our ability to put more and more cores on a single chip, which is the red curve, and if you multiple that out as in performance per socket per actual chip, you get to the blue curve, which is actually pretty much Moore’s law. So what you see is the sample there is no clear indication that there is anything wrong with Moore’s law.

So what caused the slow-down in the performance curve?

The other thing is over the decades we put more and more components into our very large systems. I tried to approximate that by looking at the number of chip sockets per scalar process we have on these large systems — that’s what you see on the red curve – while the average performance follows Moore’s law, the red line does not follow a clear exponential growth rate after about 2005-2006.

TOP500 SC15 Tech Trends Scalar Systems

At that point, we seem to run out of steam and all out of money in our ability to put more components in the very large systems and the very large systems are not growing overall in size anymore as they have before. That is my interpretation of the data – that is why we have an inflection that is why the overall performance growth in the TOP500 has been reduced from its previous levels.

Right now supercomputing grows with Moore’s law, just like when supercomputing began and it does not which we had seen before.

So it’s clearly a technological reason, but it’s not a reason on a chip, it’s actually a reason on the facility and system level that is most likely related to either power or money or both.

Accelerator stagnation

Strohmaier, who has been one of the more ardent defenders of the benefits of LINPACK as a unified benchmark, went on to explore accelerator trends, acknowledging that they are responsible for a considerable share of petaflops. “But if you look at what fraction of the overall list those accelerators contribute,” he went on, “and if you focus on the last two years, their share has actually stagnated if not fallen.”

“That means there is a hurdle that is linked to market penetration of those accelerators that have not been able to penetrate the markets beyond scientific computing. They have not gotten into the mainstream of HPC computing,” he added.

Power efficiency is another metric covered in the BoF. Looking at the top ten in terms of average power efficiency, the course is uneven, but it’s growing. Highest power efficiency is much better, however. These power winners tend to either use accelerators or be BlueGeneQ systems, which are engineered to power efficiency.

TOP500 SC15 Most Power Efficient Architectures

The chart above shows the standouts for highest power efficiency, with new machines highlighted in yellow. TSUBAME KFC, installed at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and upgraded to NVIDIA K80s from K20xs for the latest benchmarking, came in first. What surprised Strohmaier were the number two and three machines terms of power – Sugon and Inspur, respectively. And once again, every system on this list ranked for megaflops-per-watt has an accelerator on it. (More on the greenest systems will be forthcoming in a future piece.)

The final slide presented by Dr. Strohmaier plots the best application performance from the Gordon Bell prize that is awarded each year at SC with TOP500 to show correlation. Since these are different applications with potentially different systems, a close tracking between these two trends over time could be taken to suggest that the LINPACK is still a useful reflection of real world performance. This is something to dive deeper into another time, but for now, here is that slide:

TOP500 SC15_TOP500 vs Gordon Bell

 

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!

Talk to Me: Nvidia Claims NLP Inference, Training Records

August 15, 2019

Nvidia says it’s achieved significant advances in conversation natural language processing (NLP) training and inference, enabling more complex, immediate-response interchanges between customers and chatbots. And the co Read more…

By Doug Black

Trump Administration and NIST Issue AI Standards Development Plan

August 14, 2019

Efforts to develop AI are gathering steam fast. On Monday, the White House issued a federal plan to help develop technical standards for AI following up on a mandate contained in the Administration’s AI Executive Order Read more…

By John Russell

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 good understanding of the early universe, its fate billions Read more…

By Rob Johnson

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

Cloudy with a Chance of Mainframes

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

Rapid rates of change sometimes result in unexpected bedfellows. Read more…

Argonne Supercomputer Accelerates Cancer Prediction Research

August 13, 2019

In the fight against cancer, early prediction, which drastically improves prognoses, is critical. Now, new research by a team from Northwestern University – and accelerated by supercomputing resources at Argonne Nation Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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

Building Diversity and Broader Engagement in the HPC Community

August 7, 2019

Increasing diversity and inclusion in HPC is a community-building effort. Representation of both issues and individuals matters - the more people see HPC in a w Read more…

By AJ Lauer

Xilinx vs. Intel: FPGA Market Leaders Launch Server Accelerator Cards

August 6, 2019

The two FPGA market leaders, Intel and Xilinx, both announced new accelerator cards this week designed to handle specialized, compute-intensive workloads and un Read more…

By Doug Black

Upcoming NSF Cyberinfrastructure Projects to Support ‘Long-Tail’ Users, AI and Big Data

August 5, 2019

The National Science Foundation is well positioned to support national priorities, as new NSF-funded HPC systems to come online in the upcoming year promise to Read more…

By Ken Chiacchia, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center/XSEDE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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