IBM Debuts Power8 Chip with NVLink and Three New Systems

By John Russell

September 8, 2016

Not long after revealing more details about its next-gen Power9 chip due in 2017, IBM today rolled out three new Power8-based Linux servers and a new version of its Power8 chip featuring Nvidia’s NVLink interconnect. One of the servers – Power S822LC for High Performance Computing (codenamed “Minsky”) – uses the new chip (Power8 with NVLink) to communicate with P100 Pascal GPUs, NVIDIA’s most recent and highest performing GPU.

The other servers – the Power S821LC and the Power S822LC for Big Data – also leverage GPU acceleration technology (K80 or P100) via PCIe interface and have IBM’s Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (CAPI) for use with Flash storage and FPGAs. All three servers are standard two-socket additions to IBM’s Linux line.

These introductions, said Sumit Gupta, vice president, High Performance Computing and Analytics, IBM, should be seen as proof of IBM’s ongoing commitment to its vision of accelerated computing as the new paradigm, and of cognitive computing (writ large) and big data analytics as the major drivers (See HPCwire article, Think Fast: IBM Talks Acceleration in HPC and the Enterprise).

Also noteworthy is that the new systems are manufactured by partners. “All three of these OpenPOWER systems leverage the strengths and expertise of OpenPOWER partners, from acceleration capabilities to strengths in design and manufacturing. In the spirit of open we hope that our Industry partners who are manufacturing these systems, Wistron, an OpenPOWER partner, and Supermicro, will deliver Power-based servers to their clients through their routes to market in order to proliferate the OpenPOWER ecosystem,” said Gupta.

IBM.LC Server

IBM says the S822LC server with NVLink embedded at the silicon level “enables data to flow 5x faster” than on a comparable x86-based system. It also substantially reduces the programming barrier to aggressive use of GPUs according to Gupta who has written a more detailed blog on the introductions. This is the first Power8-based system delivered with NVLink according to IBM.

“Moving data from the CPU to the GPU [has been the] bottleneck because with most systems most of it is going through this thin pipe, PCIe. With NVLink the GPU has access to up to half a terabyte of memory that sits on the CPU side of that interconnect,” Gupta told HPCWire. NVLink allows improved transfer of data between both processors which fundamentally makes it easier to program.

“When an application starts, all the data is sitting in the system memory, and you’ve got to move chunks of it over to the GPU,” Gupta continued. “NVLink does three things. It improves the performance because we’ve enabled a fatter pipe between the processors. It enables you to move smaller functions. And it makes programming accelerators easier because you have to do less data management.”

IBM.POWER8.NVLINK

The new Power8 with NVLink processor features 10 cores running up to 3.26 GHz. POWER8 processors in this server have higher memory bandwidth than x86 CPUs, at 115 GB/s and can have as much as ½ a terabyte of system memory per socket.   There are larger caches per core inside the POWER8 processor, and this coupled with the faster cores and memory bandwidth leads to higher application performance and throughput.

The new NVIDIA Tesla P100 GPU accelerator increases floating point performance, delivering 21 teraflops of half-precision, 10.6 teraflops of single-precision, and 5.3 teraflops of double-precision performance. The accelerator includes 16 gigabytes of the HBM2 stacked memory with an on-GPU memory bandwidth of 720 gigabytes per sec (GB/s). The NVIDIA Tesla P100 with NVLink GPU in the SXM2 form factor delivers 14 percent more raw compute performance than the PCIe variant.

Using NVLink, writes Gupta in his blog, provides three major advantages to application acceleration:

  1. Performance: The new Power8 with NVLink processor and the new Tesla P100 GPU have four NVLink interfaces that enable “5x faster communication than a PCIe x16 Gen3 connection used in other systems.” This enables faster data exchange and application performance, by overcoming the limitation of narrow PCIe data pipe into the GPU.
  2. Programmability: The CUDA 8 software and the Page Migration Engine in Tesla P100 enable a unified memory space with automated data management between the system memory connected to the CPU and the GPU memory. Coupled with NVLink, unified memory makes programming GPU accelerators much easier for developers. Applications can be easily accelerated with GPUs by incrementally moving functions from the CPU to the GPU, without having to deal with data management.
  3. More application acceleration: Since NVLink reduces the communication time between the CPU and GPU, it enables smaller pieces of work to be moved to the GPU for acceleration. This means that more parts of an application can be GPU accelerated.

In making the announcements, IBM continued ratcheting up its ‘we’re-better-than-Intel’ rhetoric. Its broad application targets encompass all things big data and analytics, as well as deep learning and cognitive computing.

“The big advantage we are seeing for Power8 in the market has been around data analytics, databases, and high performance computing for machine learning and deep learning, and artificial intelligence,” said Gupta. “Because we have faster cores, we see much better performance, [for example], on databases compared to Intel-based systems. Applications like kinetica, which is an accelerated (GPU optimized) database for deep learning and machine learning, gets the value of NVLink high speed data connection between CPU and GPU.”

Recognizing the uphill battle in winning x86 market share, IBM in the past has emphasized efforts to penetrate hyperscalers as pivotal to its success (see HPCwire article, Handicapping IBM/OpenPOWER’s Odds for Success).

According to the IBM release: “Early testing with one of the world’s largest Internet service providers (Tencent) based in China has shown that a large cluster of the new Power S822LC for Big Data servers was able to run a data-intensive workload three times faster than its former x86-based infrastructure.  Moreover, this result was achieved while reducing the total number of servers used by two-thirds. Given the significant cost benefits of using fewer servers to deliver faster performance, the company is now integrating the new LC servers into its hyperscale data center for big data workloads.”

Sumit Gupta, IBM
Sumit Gupta, IBM

Gupta maintains there’s a big appetite for new Power8-based servers despite the advancing Power9. “Several businesses, research organizations and government bodies have pre-tested early systems and placed their orders. Among those first in line to receive shipments are a large multinational retail corporation and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL),” according to the IBM release.

ORNL will use the new systems as a development platform for optimizing applications to take advantage of the built-in NVLink interface technology. The systems will serve as an early-generation test bed for developing demanding applications for Summit, ORNL’s next generation supercomputer that IBM will deliver in 2017 and which will use the Power9 chip. Arthur S. (Buddy) Bland, OLCF project director, is quoted in the press release saying, “As a long-time user of GPUs, we believe that this will improve the performance of our applications and make it easier for the users to deliver great science.”

Building an ecosystem is hard. For IBM and OpenPOWER, many of the diverse pieces needed are seemingly falling into place. Time will tell.

Link to Gupta’s blog: www.ibm.com/blogs/systems/ibm-nvidia-present-nvlink-server-youve-waiting

Image source: IBM

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!

NSF Budget Approved for $8.3B in 2020, a 2.5% Increase

January 16, 2020

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has been spared a President Trump-proposed budget cut that would have rolled back its funding to 2012 levels. Congress passed legislation last month that sets the budget at $8.3 bill Read more…

By Staff report

NOAA Updates Its Massive, Supercomputer-Generated Climate Dataset

January 15, 2020

As Australia burns, understanding and mitigating the climate crisis is more urgent than ever. Now, by leveraging the computing resources at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has updated its 20th Century Reanalysis Project (20CR) dataset... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Atos-AMD System to Quintuple Supercomputing Power at European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts

January 15, 2020

The United Kingdom-based European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), a supercomputer-powered weather forecasting organization backed by most of the countries in Europe, has signed a four-year, $89-million Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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, the gold standard programming languages for fast performance Read more…

By John Russell

Quantum Computing, ML Drive 2019 Patent Awards

January 14, 2020

The dizzying pace of technology innovation often fueled by the growing availability of computing horsepower is underscored by the race to develop unique designs and application that can be patented. Among the goals of ma Read more…

By George Leopold

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…

Andrew Jones Joins Microsoft Azure HPC Team

January 13, 2020

Andrew Jones announced today he is joining Microsoft as part of the Azure HPC engineering & product team in early February. Jones makes the move after nearly 12 years at the UK HPC consultancy Numerical Algorithms Gr Read more…

By Staff report

Atos-AMD System to Quintuple Supercomputing Power at European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts

January 15, 2020

The United Kingdom-based European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), a supercomputer-powered weather forecasting organization backed by most of Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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

White House AI Regulatory Guidelines: ‘Remove Impediments to Private-sector AI Innovation’

January 9, 2020

When it comes to new technology, it’s been said government initially stays uninvolved – then gets too involved. The White House’s guidelines for federal a Read more…

By Doug Black

IBM Touts Quantum Network Growth, Improving QC Quality, and Battery Research

January 8, 2020

IBM today announced its Q (quantum) Network community had grown to 100-plus – Delta Airlines and Los Alamos National Laboratory are among most recent addition Read more…

By John Russell

HPCwire Awards Highlight Supercomputing Achievements in the Sciences

January 7, 2020

In November at SC19 in Denver, the HPCwire Readers’ and Editors’ Choice awards program celebrated its 16th year of honoring remarkable achievements in high-performance computing. With categories ranging from Best Use of HPC in Energy to Top HPC-Enabled Scientific Achievement, many of the winners contributed to groundbreaking developments in the sciences. This editorial highlights those awards. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Blasts from the (Recent) Past and Hopes for the Future

December 23, 2019

What does 2020 look like to you? What did 2019 look like? Lots happened but the main trends were carryovers from 2018 – AI messaging again blanketed everything; the roll-out of new big machines and exascale announcements continued; processor diversity and system disaggregation kicked up a notch; hyperscalers continued flexing their muscles (think AWS and its Graviton2 processor); and the U.S. and China continued their awkward trade war. Read more…

By John Russell

ARPA-E Applies ML to Power Generation Designs

December 19, 2019

The U.S. Energy Department’s research arm is leveraging machine learning technologies to simplify the design process for energy systems ranging from photovolt Read more…

By George Leopold

Focused on ‘Silicon TAM,’ Intel Puts Gary Patton, Former GlobalFoundries CTO, in Charge of Design Enablement

December 12, 2019

Change within Intel’s upper management – and to its company mission – has continued as a published report has disclosed that chip technology heavyweight G Read more…

By Doug Black

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IBM Opens Quantum Computing Center; Announces 53-Qubit Machine

September 19, 2019

Gauging progress in quantum computing is a tricky thing. IBM yesterday announced the opening of the IBM Quantum Computing Center in New York, with five 20-qubit 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