Azure Edges AWS in Linpack Benchmark Study

By John Russell

February 15, 2017

The “when will clouds be ready for HPC” question has ebbed and flowed for years. It seems clear that for at least some workloads and on some clouds, the answer is now. HPC cloud specialist Nimbix, for example, focuses on providing fast interconnect, large memory, and heterogeneous architecture specifically tailored for HPC. The goliath public clouds have likewise steadily incorporated needed technology and (perhaps less decisively) pricing options.

A new study posted on arXiv.org last week – Comparative benchmarking of cloud computing vendors with High Performance Linpack – authored by Exabyte.io, an admittedly biased source, reports the answer is an unambiguous yes to the question of whether popular clouds can accommodate HPC and further examines some of the differences between a few of the major players.

“For high performance computing (HPC) workloads that traditionally required large and cost-intensive hardware procurement, the feasibility and advantages of cloud computing are still debated. In particular, it is often questioned whether software applications that require distributed memory can be efficiently run on ”commodity” compute infrastructure publicly available from cloud computing vendors,” write the authors, Mohammad Mohammadi, Timur Bazhirov of Exabyte.io.

“We benchmarked the performance of the best available computing hardware from public cloud providers with high performance Linpack. We optimized the benchmark for each computing environment and evaluated the relative performance for distributed memory calculations. We found Microsoft Azure to deliver the best results, and demonstrated that the performance per single computing core on public cloud to be comparable to modern traditional supercomputing systems.

“Based on our findings we suggest that the concept of high performance computing in the cloud is ready for a widespread adoption and can provide a viable and cost-efficient alternative to capital-intensive on- premises hardware deployments.”

Exabyte.io is a young company building a cloud-based environment to assist organizations with materials design – hence it has a horse in the race. Company marketing info on its website states, “Exabyte.io powers the adoption of high-performance cloud computing for design and discovery of advanced materials, devices and chemicals from nanoscale. We combine high fidelity simulation techniques, large-scale data analytics and machine learning tools into a hosted environment available for public, private and hybrid cloud deployments.”

Leaving its interest aside the study is interesting. Here’s a list of the cloud offerings evaluated:

The benchmarking was done using the High Performance Linpack (HPL) program, which solves a random system of linear equations, represented by a dense matrix, in double precision (64 bits) arithmetic on distributed-memory computers. “It does so through a two-dimensional block- cyclic data distribution, and right-looking variant of the LU factorization with row partial pivoting.” It is a portable and freely available software package.

Three different AWS scenarios were tested including– hyper-threaded, non-hyper-threaded, and non-hyper-threaded with placement groups. On Azure, three different instance types were used, F-series, A-series, and H-series. Compute1-60 instances were used on Rackspace. The benchmark was also run on NERSC Edison supercomputer with hyper-threading enabled. Edison, of course, is a Cray XC30, with a peak performance of 2.57 PFLOPS, 133,824 compute cores, 357 terabytes of memory, and 7.56 petabytes of disk, holding number 60 rank on the top500. Specific configurations shown below.

In many cases the performances were quite similar but each also had strengths and weaknesses. For example, network saturation at scale and slower processor clock speeds affected IBM Softlayer’s performance according to the study. The authors also noted: “AWS and Rackspace show a significant degree of parallel performance degradation, such that at 32 nodes the measured performance is about one-half of the peak value.”

The brief paper is best read in full for the details. The performance data for each of the clouds is presented. Below is a summary figure of cloud performances.

Figure 1: Speedup ratios (the ratios of maximum speedup Rmax to peak speedup Rpeak) against the number of nodes for all benchmarked cases. Speedup ratio for 1,2,4,8,16 and 32 nodes are investigated and given by points. Lines are drawn to guide the eye. The legend is as follows: AWS – Amazon Web Services in the default hyper-threaded regime; AWS-NHT – same, with hyperthreading disabled; AWS-NHT- PG – same, with placement group option enabled; AZ – Mi- crosoft Azure standard F16 instances; AZ-IB-A – same provider, A9 instances; AZ-IB-H – same provider, H16 instances; RS – Rackspace compute1-60 instances; SL – IBM/Softlayer virtual servers; NERSC – Edison computing facility of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center.

On balance, argue the authors, “Our results demonstrate that the current generation of publicly available cloud computing systems are capable of delivering comparable, if not better, performance than the top-tier traditional high performance computing systems. This fact confirms that cloud computing is already a viable and cost-effective alternative to traditional cost- intensive supercomputing procurement.”

Here is a link to the paper on arXiv.org: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1702.02968.pdf

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!

How Formula 1 Used Cloud HPC to Build the Next Generation of Racing

December 12, 2019

Formula 1, Rob Smedley explained, is maybe the biggest racing spectacle in the world, with five hundred million fans tuning in for every race. Smedley, a chief engineer with Formula 1’s performance engineering and anal Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

RPI Powers Up ‘AiMOS’ AI Supercomputer

December 11, 2019

Designed to push the frontiers of computing chip and systems performance optimized for AI workloads, an 8 petaflops (Linpack) IBM Power9-based supercomputer has been unveiled in upstate New York that will be used by IBM Read more…

By Doug Black

At SC19: Developing a Digital Twin

December 11, 2019

In the not too distant future, we can expect to see our skies filled with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) delivering packages, maybe even people, from location to location. In such a world, there will also be a digita Read more…

By Aaron Dubrow

Supercomputers Help Predict Carbon Dioxide Levels

December 10, 2019

The Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems – its lands, forests, jungles and so on – are crucial “sinks” for atmospheric carbon, holding nearly 30 percent of our annual CO2 emissions as they breathe in the carbon-rich Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Finally! SC19 Competitors Live and in Color!

December 10, 2019

You know the saying “better late than never”? That’s how my cluster competition coverage is faring this year. With SC19 coming late in November, quickly followed by my annual trip to South Africa to cover their clu Read more…

By Dan Olds

AWS Solution Channel

Making High Performance Computing Affordable and Accessible for Small and Medium Businesses with HPC on AWS

High performance computing (HPC) brings a powerful set of tools to a broad range of industries, helping to drive innovation and boost revenue in finance, genomics, oil and gas extraction, and other fields. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

GPU Scheduling and Resource Accounting: The Key to an Efficient AI Data Center

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

GPUs are the new CPUs

GPUs have become a staple technology in modern HPC and AI data centers. Read more…

Intel’s Jim Clarke on its New Cryo-controller and why Intel isn’t Late to the Quantum Party

December 9, 2019

Intel today introduced the ‘first-of-its-kind’ cryo-controller chip for quantum computing and previewed a cryo-prober tool for characterizing quantum processor chips. The new controller is a mixed-signal SoC named Ho Read more…

By John Russell

RPI Powers Up ‘AiMOS’ AI Supercomputer

December 11, 2019

Designed to push the frontiers of computing chip and systems performance optimized for AI workloads, an 8 petaflops (Linpack) IBM Power9-based supercomputer has Read more…

By Doug Black

Intel’s Jim Clarke on its New Cryo-controller and why Intel isn’t Late to the Quantum Party

December 9, 2019

Intel today introduced the ‘first-of-its-kind’ cryo-controller chip for quantum computing and previewed a cryo-prober tool for characterizing quantum proces Read more…

By John Russell

On the Spack Track @SC19

December 5, 2019

At the annual supercomputing conference, SC19 in Denver, Colorado, there were Spack events each day of the conference. As a reflection of its grassroots heritage, nine sessions were planned by more than a dozen thought leaders from seven organizations, including three U.S. national Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories and Sylabs... Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake

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

AWS Debuts 7nm 2nd-Gen Graviton Arm Processor

December 3, 2019

The “x86 Big Bang,” in which market dominance of the venerable Intel CPU has exploded into fragments of processor options suited to varying workloads, has n Read more…

By Doug Black

Ride on the Wild Side – Squyres SC19 Mars Rovers Keynote

December 2, 2019

Reminding us of the deep and enabling connection between HPC and modern science is an important part of the SC Conference mission. And yes, HPC is a science its Read more…

By John Russell

NSCI Update – Adapting to a Changing Landscape

December 2, 2019

It was November of 2017 when we last visited the topic of the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI). As you will recall, the NSCI was started with an Executive Order (E.O. No. 13702), that was issued by President Obama in July of 2015 and was followed by a Strategic Plan that was released in July of 2016. The question for November of 2017... Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Tsinghua University Racks Up Its Ninth Student Cluster Championship Win at SC19

November 27, 2019

Tsinghua University has done it again. At SC19 last week, the eight-time gold medal-winner team took home the top prize in the 2019 Student Cluster Competition Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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

DARPA Looks to Propel Parallelism

September 4, 2019

As Moore’s law runs out of steam, new programming approaches are being pursued with the goal of greater hardware performance with less coding. The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency is launching a new programming effort aimed at leveraging the benefits of massive distributed parallelism with less sweat. Read more…

By George Leopold

Ayar Labs to Demo Photonics Chiplet in FPGA Package at Hot Chips

August 19, 2019

Silicon startup Ayar Labs continues to gain momentum with its DARPA-backed optical chiplet technology that puts advanced electronics and optics on the same chip 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

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

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

Leading Solution Providers

SC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

AMD
AMD
CEJN
CJEN
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
SIX NINES IT
SIX NINES IT
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL
WEKAIO
WEKAIO

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

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

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

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

When Dense Matrix Representations Beat Sparse

September 9, 2019

In our world filled with unintended consequences, it turns out that saving memory space to help deal with GPU limitations, knowing it introduces performance pen Read more…

By James Reinders

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

Cerebras to Supply DOE with Wafer-Scale AI Supercomputing Technology

September 17, 2019

Cerebras Systems, which debuted its wafer-scale AI silicon at Hot Chips last month, has entered into a multi-year partnership with Argonne National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as part of a larger collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

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