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!

Data West Brings Technology Leaders to SDSC

December 6, 2018

Data and technology enthusiasts from around the world descended upon the San Diego Supercomputing Center (SDSC) for the third annual Data West conference, which is taking place this week on the campus of the University o Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Topology Can Help Us Find Patterns in Weather

December 6, 2018

Topology--–the study of shapes-- seems to be all the rage. You could even say that data has shape, and shape matters. Shapes are comfortable and familiar concepts, so it is intriguing to see that many applications are Read more…

By James Reinders

What’s New in HPC Research: Automatic Energy Efficiency, DNA Data Analysis, Post-Exascale & More

December 6, 2018

In this bimonthly feature, HPCwire highlights newly published research in the high-performance computing community and related domains. From exascale to quantum computing, the details are here. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

AI Can Be Scary. But Choosing the Wrong Partners Can Be Mortifying!

As you continue to dive deeper into AI, you will discover it is more than just deep learning. AI is an extremely complex set of machine learning, deep learning, reinforcement, and analytics algorithms with varying compute, storage, memory, and communications needs. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Five Steps to Building a Data Strategy for AI

Our data-centric world is driving many organizations to apply advanced analytics that use artificial intelligence (AI). AI provides intelligent answers to challenging business questions. AI also enables highly personalized user experiences, built when data scientists and analysts learn new information from data that would otherwise go undetected using traditional analytics methods. Read more…

Zettascale by 2035? China Thinks So

December 6, 2018

Exascale machines (of at least a 1 exaflops peak) are anticipated to arrive by around 2020, a few years behind original predictions; and given extreme-scale performance challenges are not getting any easier, it makes sense that researchers are already looking ahead to the next big 1,000x performance goal post: zettascale computing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Topology Can Help Us Find Patterns in Weather

December 6, 2018

Topology--–the study of shapes-- seems to be all the rage. You could even say that data has shape, and shape matters. Shapes are comfortable and familiar conc Read more…

By James Reinders

Zettascale by 2035? China Thinks So

December 6, 2018

Exascale machines (of at least a 1 exaflops peak) are anticipated to arrive by around 2020, a few years behind original predictions; and given extreme-scale performance challenges are not getting any easier, it makes sense that researchers are already looking ahead to the next big 1,000x performance goal post: zettascale computing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Robust Quantum Computers Still a Decade Away, Says Nat’l Academies Report

December 5, 2018

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine yesterday released a report – Quantum Computing: Progress and Prospects – whose optimism about Read more…

By John Russell

Revisiting the 2008 Exascale Computing Study at SC18

November 29, 2018

A report published a decade ago conveyed the results of a study aimed at determining if it were possible to achieve 1000X the computational power of the the Read more…

By Scott Gibson

AWS Debuts Lustre as a Service, Accelerates Data Transfer

November 28, 2018

From the Amazon re:Invent main stage in Las Vegas today, Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy introduced Amazon FSx for Lustre, citing a growing body of applicati Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AWS Launches First Arm Cloud Instances

November 28, 2018

AWS, a macrocosm of the emerging high-performance technology landscape, wants to be everywhere you want to be and offer everything you want to use (or at least Read more…

By Doug Black

Move Over Lustre & Spectrum Scale – Here Comes BeeGFS?

November 26, 2018

Is BeeGFS – the parallel file system with European roots – on a path to compete with Lustre and Spectrum Scale worldwide in HPC environments? Frank Herold Read more…

By John Russell

DOE Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar Interviewed at SC18

November 21, 2018

During the 30th annual SC conference in Dallas last week, SC18 hosted U.S. Department of Energy Under Secretary for Science Paul M. Dabbar. In attendance Nov. 13-14, Dabbar delivered remarks at the Top500 panel, met with a number of industry stakeholders and toured the show floor. He also met with HPCwire for an interview, where we discussed the role of the DOE in advancing leadership computing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quantum Computing Will Never Work

November 27, 2018

Amid the gush of money and enthusiastic predictions being thrown at quantum computing comes a proposed cold shower in the form of an essay by physicist Mikhail Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Unveils Shasta, Lands NERSC-9 Contract

October 30, 2018

Cray revealed today the details of its next-gen supercomputing architecture, Shasta, selected to be the next flagship system at NERSC. We've known of the code-name "Shasta" since the Argonne slice of the CORAL project was announced in 2015 and although the details of that plan have changed considerably, Cray didn't slow down its timeline for Shasta. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM at Hot Chips: What’s Next for Power

August 23, 2018

With processor, memory and networking technologies all racing to fill in for an ailing Moore’s law, the era of the heterogeneous datacenter is well underway, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

House Passes $1.275B National Quantum Initiative

September 17, 2018

Last Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Quantum Initiative Act (NQIA) intended to accelerate quantum computing research and developm Read more…

By John Russell

CERN Project Sees Orders-of-Magnitude Speedup with AI Approach

August 14, 2018

An award-winning effort at CERN has demonstrated potential to significantly change how the physics based modeling and simulation communities view machine learni Read more…

By Rob Farber

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

AMD Sets Up for Epyc Epoch

November 16, 2018

It’s been a good two weeks, AMD’s Gary Silcott and Andy Parma told me on the last day of SC18 in Dallas at the restaurant where we met to discuss their show news and recent successes. Heck, it’s been a good year. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Leads Supercomputing with #1, #2 Systems & Petascale Arm

November 12, 2018

The 31st Supercomputing Conference (SC) - commemorating 30 years since the first Supercomputing in 1988 - kicked off in Dallas yesterday, taking over the Kay Ba Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

SC 18 Virtual Booth Video Tour

Advania @ SC18 AMD @ SC18
ASRock Rack @ SC18
DDN Storage @ SC18
HPE @ SC18
IBM @ SC18
Lenovo @ SC18 Mellanox Technologies @ SC18
NVIDIA @ SC18
One Stop Systems @ SC18
Oracle @ SC18 Panasas @ SC18
Supermicro @ SC18 SUSE @ SC18 TYAN @ SC18
Verne Global @ SC18

TACC’s ‘Frontera’ Supercomputer Expands Horizon for Extreme-Scale Science

August 29, 2018

The National Science Foundation and the Texas Advanced Computing Center announced today that a new system, called Frontera, will overtake Stampede 2 as the fast Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE No. 1, IBM Surges, in ‘Bucking Bronco’ High Performance Server Market

September 27, 2018

Riding healthy U.S. and global economies, strong demand for AI-capable hardware and other tailwind trends, the high performance computing server market jumped 28 percent in the second quarter 2018 to $3.7 billion, up from $2.9 billion for the same period last year, according to industry analyst firm Hyperion Research. Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia’s Jensen Huang Delivers Vision for the New HPC

November 14, 2018

For nearly two hours on Monday at SC18, Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, presented his expansive view of the future of HPC (and computing in general) as only he can do. Animated. Backstopped by a stream of data charts, product photos, and even a beautiful image of supernovae... Read more…

By John Russell

Germany Celebrates Launch of Two Fastest Supercomputers

September 26, 2018

The new high-performance computer SuperMUC-NG at the Leibniz Supercomputing Center (LRZ) in Garching is the fastest computer in Germany and one of the fastest i Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Houston to Field Massive, ‘Geophysically Configured’ Cloud Supercomputer

October 11, 2018

Based on some news stories out today, one might get the impression that the next system to crack number one on the Top500 would be an industrial oil and gas mon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Confirms 48-Core Cascade Lake-AP for 2019

November 4, 2018

As part of the run-up to SC18, taking place in Dallas next week (Nov. 11-16), Intel is doling out info on its next-gen Cascade Lake family of Xeon processors, specifically the “Advanced Processor” version (Cascade Lake-AP), architected for high-performance computing, artificial intelligence and infrastructure-as-a-service workloads. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Releases Machine Learning “What-If” Analysis Tool

September 12, 2018

Training machine learning models has long been time-consuming process. Yesterday, Google released a “What-If Tool” for probing how data point changes affect a model’s prediction. The new tool is being launched as a new feature of the open source TensorBoard web application... Read more…

By John Russell

The Convergence of Big Data and Extreme-Scale HPC

August 31, 2018

As we are heading towards extreme-scale HPC coupled with data intensive analytics like machine learning, the necessary integration of big data and HPC is a curr Read more…

By Rob Farber

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