US Exascale Computing Update with Paul Messina

By Tiffany Trader

December 8, 2016

Around the world, efforts are ramping up to cross the next major computing threshold with machines that are 50-100x more performant than today’s fastest number crunchers. Earlier this year, the United States announced its goal to stand up two capable exascale machines by 2023 as part of the Exascale Computing Project and Distinguished Argonne Fellow Dr. Paul Messina is leading the charge.

Since the project launched last February ECP has awarded $122 million in funding with $39.8 million going toward 22 application development projects, $34 million for 35 software development proposals and $48 million for four co-design centers. At SC16, we spoke with Dr. Messina about the mission of the project, the progress made so far — including a review of these three funding rounds — and the possibility of an accelerated timeline.

Here are highlights from that discussion (the full interview is included at the end of the article).

Why exascale matters

“In the history of computing as one gets the ability to do more calculations or deal with more data, we are able to tackle problems we couldn’t deal with otherwise. A lot of the problems that over the years we first could simulate and validate with an experiment in one-dimension, we’re now able to do it in two or three-dimensions. With exascale, we expect to be able to do things in much greater scale and with more fidelity. In some cases we hope to be able to do predictive simulations, not just to verify that something works the way we thought it would. An example of that would be discovering new materials that are better for batteries, for energy storage.

“Exascale is an arbitrary stepping stone along the way that will continue. Just as we had gigaflops and teraflops, peta- and so on, exascale is one along the way. But when you have an increase in compute power by a factor of one-hundred, chances are you will be able to tackle things that you cannot tackle now. Even at this conference you will hear about certain problems that exascale isn’t good enough for, so that indicates that it’s a stepping stone along the way. But we have identified dozens of applications that are important, problems that can’t be solved today and that we believe with exascale capability we will be able to solve. Precision medicine is one, additive manufacturing for very complex materials is another, climate science and carbon capture simulation, for example, are among the applications we are investing in.”

On the significance of ECP being a project as opposed to a program

“There have been research efforts and investigations into exascale since 2007, nine years ago. At the point that it became a project, it indicates that we really want to get going on it. The reason it is a project is that there are so many things that have to be done simultaneously and in concert with each other. The general outline of the project is that we invest in applications, we invest in the software stack, we invest in hardware technology with the vendor community — the people who develop the technologies so that those technologies will eventually land in products that will be in exascale systems and that will be better suited to our applications — and we also invest in the facilities from their knowledge of what works when they install systems. Those four big pieces have to work together and this is a holistic approach.

“The project will have milestones, some of which are shared between the applications and the software so if application A says ‘I need a programming language feature to express this kind of calculation more easily,’ then we want the compiler and  programming models part of the software to try to address that but then they have to address it together — if it doesn’t work, try again. That’s why it’s a project, because we have to orchestrate the various pieces. It can’t be just invent a nice programming model, tackle a very exciting application. We have to work together to be successful at exascale; same thing goes with the hardware architecture, the node technology and the system technology.”

The mission of ECP

“The mission is to create an exascale ecosystem so that towards the end of the project there will be companies that will be able to bid exascale systems in response to an RFP by the facilities, not the project, but the typical DOE facilities at Livermore, Argonne, Berkeley, Oak Ridge and Los Alamos. There will be a software stack that we hope will not only meet the needs of the exascale applications, but will also be a good HPC software stack because one of our goals is also to help industry and the medium-sized HPC users more easily get into HPC. If the software stack is compatible at the middle end as well as the very highest end, it gives them an on-ramp. And a major goal is the applications we are funding to be ready on day one to use the systems when they are installed. These systems have a lifetime of four to five years. If it takes two years for the applications to get ready to use them productively, half the life of the system has gone by before they can start cranking out results, so part of the ecosystem is a large cadre of application teams that know how to use exascale, they’ve implemented exciting applications, and that will help spread the knowledge and expertise.”

The global exascale race

“The fact that these countries and world regions like the EU have announced major investments in exascale development is an indication that exascale matters. Those countries would not be investing heavily in exascale development if they didn’t think it was useful. The US currently has a goal to develop exascale capability with systems installed and accepted in a time range of seven to ten years. It is a range, and certainly the government is considering an acceleration of that — it might be six to seven years. Any acceleration comes at a price. This project is investing very heavily in applications and software, not just on buying the system from vendors — so it’s a big investment but one that I think is necessary to be able to get the benefits of exascale, to have the applications ready to use and exploit the systems.

“Could we be doing better? If this project had started two-three years ago we would be farther ahead, but that didn’t happen. We got going about a year ago — it isn’t clear that we would be the first country that has an exaflop system. But remember I haven’t used the word exaflop until now. I’ve talked about exascale. What we’re focusing on is having applications and a software stack that runs effectively in a ratio that would indicate that it’s exascale. It might take two exaflops, so who gets an exaflop first might not be as important as who gets the equivalent of exascale. We also have goals around energy usage, 20-30 MW, which is a lot but if we didn’t have a goal like that we might end up with 60 or 100 MW, which is very expensive.

“If we are asked as a project to accelerate, we will do our best to accelerate — it will require more money and more risk, but within reason we will certainly do that.”

Sustainable exascale

“I often emphasize that for the technologies that we’re hoping the vendors will develop partly with our funding and the software stack that we’re developing in collaboration with universities and industry that that will create a sustainable ecosystem. It will not just be that we’ve gotten to exascale, systems can be anointed as exascale, we breath a sigh of relief and relax. It needs to be sustainable and that’s why we really want systems that are in the vendor’s product line — they’re not something they are building just for us one of a kind. It needs to be part of the business model that they want to follow, and software that is usable by many different applications, which will make it sustainable — open source almost exclusively, which again helps sustainability because many people can then contribute to it and help evolve it beyond exascale.”

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!

Graphcore Introduces Next-Gen Intelligence Processing Unit for AI Workloads

July 15, 2020

British hardware designer Graphcore, which emerged from stealth in 2016 to launch its first-generation Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU), has announced its next-generation IPU platform: the IPU-Machine M2000. With the n Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

heFFTe: Scaling FFT for Exascale

July 15, 2020

Exascale computing aspires to provide breakthrough solutions addressing today’s most critical challenges in scientific discovery, energy assurance, economic competitiveness, and national security. This has been the mai Read more…

By Jack Dongarra and Stanimire Tomov

There’s No Storage Like ATGC: Breakthrough Helps to Store ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in DNA

July 15, 2020

Even as storage density reaches new heights, many researchers have their eyes set on a paradigm shift in high-density information storage: storing data in the four nucleotides (A, T, G and C) that constitute DNA, a metho Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Get a Grip: Intel Neuromorphic Chip Used to Give Robotics Arm a Sense of Touch

July 15, 2020

Moving neuromorphic technology from the laboratory into practice has proven slow-going. This week, National University of Singapore researchers moved the needle forward demonstrating an event-driven, visual-tactile perce Read more…

By John Russell

What’s New in HPC Research: Volcanoes, Mobile Games, Proteins & More

July 14, 2020

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

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Solution Channel

INEOS TEAM UK Accelerates Boat Design for America’s Cup Using HPC on AWS

The America’s Cup Dream

The 36th America’s Cup race will be decided in Auckland, New Zealand in 2021. Like all the teams, INEOS TEAM UK will compete in a boat whose design will have followed guidelines set by race organizers to ensure the crew’s sailing skills are fully tested. Read more…

Intel® HPC + AI Pavilion

Supercomputing the Pandemic: Scientific Community Tackles COVID-19 from Multiple Perspectives

Since their inception, supercomputers have taken on the biggest, most complex, and most data-intensive computing challenges—from confirming Einstein’s theories about gravitational waves to predicting the impacts of climate change. Read more…

Joliot-Curie Supercomputer Used to Build First Full, High-Fidelity Aircraft Engine Simulation

July 14, 2020

When industrial designers plan the design of a new element of a vehicle’s propulsion or exterior, they typically use fluid dynamics to optimize airflow and increase the vehicle’s speed and efficiency. These fluid dyn Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Graphcore Introduces Next-Gen Intelligence Processing Unit for AI Workloads

July 15, 2020

British hardware designer Graphcore, which emerged from stealth in 2016 to launch its first-generation Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU), has announced its nex Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

heFFTe: Scaling FFT for Exascale

July 15, 2020

Exascale computing aspires to provide breakthrough solutions addressing today’s most critical challenges in scientific discovery, energy assurance, economic c Read more…

By Jack Dongarra and Stanimire Tomov

Get a Grip: Intel Neuromorphic Chip Used to Give Robotics Arm a Sense of Touch

July 15, 2020

Moving neuromorphic technology from the laboratory into practice has proven slow-going. This week, National University of Singapore researchers moved the needle Read more…

By John Russell

Max Planck Society Begins Installation of Liquid-Cooled Supercomputer from Lenovo

July 9, 2020

Lenovo announced today that it is supplying a new high performance computer to the Max Planck Society, one of Germany's premier research organizations. Comprise Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

President’s Council Targets AI, Quantum, STEM; Recommends Spending Growth

July 9, 2020

Last week the President Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) met (webinar) to review policy recommendations around three sub-committee reports: Read more…

By John Russell

Google Cloud Debuts 16-GPU Ampere A100 Instances

July 7, 2020

On the heels of the Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU launch in May, Google Cloud is announcing alpha availability of the A100 “Accelerator Optimized” VM A2 instance family on Google Compute Engine. The instances are powered by the HGX A100 16-GPU platform, which combines two HGX A100 8-GPU baseboards using... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Q&A: HLRS’s Bastian Koller Tackles HPC and Industry in Germany and Europe

July 6, 2020

In this exclusive interview for HPCwire – sadly not face to face – Steve Conway, senior advisor for Hyperion Research, talks with Dr.-Ing Bastian Koller about the state of HPC and its collaboration with Industry in Europe. Koller is a familiar figure in HPC. He is the managing director at High Performance Computing Center Stuttgart (HLRS) and also serves... Read more…

By Steve Conway, Hyperion

OpenPOWER Reboot – New Director, New Silicon Partners, Leveraging Linux Foundation Connections

July 2, 2020

Earlier this week the OpenPOWER Foundation announced the contribution of IBM’s A21 Power processor core design to the open source community. Roughly this time Read more…

By John Russell

Supercomputer Modeling Tests How COVID-19 Spreads in Grocery Stores

April 8, 2020

In the COVID-19 era, many people are treating simple activities like getting gas or groceries with caution as they try to heed social distancing mandates and protect their own health. Still, significant uncertainty surrounds the relative risk of different activities, and conflicting information is prevalent. A team of Finnish researchers set out to address some of these uncertainties by... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Turns Its Massive Crowdsourced Computer Network Against COVID-19

March 16, 2020

For gamers, fighting against a global crisis is usually pure fantasy – but now, it’s looking more like a reality. As supercomputers around the world spin up Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Simulations Reveal the Fate of the Neanderthals

May 25, 2020

For hundreds of thousands of years, neanderthals roamed the planet, eventually (almost 50,000 years ago) giving way to homo sapiens, which quickly became the do Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

Neocortex Will Be First-of-Its-Kind 800,000-Core AI Supercomputer

June 9, 2020

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC - a joint research organization of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh) has won a $5 million award Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Honeywell’s Big Bet on Trapped Ion Quantum Computing

April 7, 2020

Honeywell doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of quantum computing pioneers, but a decade ago the high-tech conglomerate better known for its control systems waded deliberately into the then calmer quantum computing (QC) waters. Fast forward to March when Honeywell announced plans to introduce an ion trap-based quantum computer whose ‘performance’ would... Read more…

By John Russell

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…

By Doug Black

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU: Up to 2.5X the HPC, 20X the AI

May 14, 2020

Nvidia's first Ampere-based graphics card, the A100 GPU, packs a whopping 54 billion transistors on 826mm2 of silicon, making it the world's largest seven-nanom Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

‘Billion Molecules Against COVID-19’ Challenge to Launch with Massive Supercomputing Support

April 22, 2020

Around the world, supercomputing centers have spun up and opened their doors for COVID-19 research in what may be the most unified supercomputing effort in hist Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Australian Researchers Break All-Time Internet Speed Record

May 26, 2020

If you’ve been stuck at home for the last few months, you’ve probably become more attuned to the quality (or lack thereof) of your internet connection. Even Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

15 Slides on Programming Aurora and Exascale Systems

May 7, 2020

Sometime in 2021, Aurora, the first planned U.S. exascale system, is scheduled to be fired up at Argonne National Laboratory. Cray (now HPE) and Intel are the k Read more…

By John Russell

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

TACC Supercomputers Run Simulations Illuminating COVID-19, DNA Replication

March 19, 2020

As supercomputers around the world spin up to combat the coronavirus, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) is announcing results that may help to illumina Read more…

By Staff report

$100B Plan Submitted for Massive Remake and Expansion of NSF

May 27, 2020

Legislation to reshape, expand - and rename - the National Science Foundation has been submitted in both the U.S. House and Senate. The proposal, which seems to Read more…

By John Russell

John Martinis Reportedly Leaves Google Quantum Effort

April 21, 2020

John Martinis, who led Google’s quantum computing effort since establishing its quantum hardware group in 2014, has left Google after being moved into an advi 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