RIKEN Posts Extensive Study of Global Supercomputer Plans in Time for ISC 2017

By John Russell

June 13, 2017

On the eve of ISC 2017 and the next release of the Top500 list, Japan’s RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science has posted an extensive study by IDC that compares and contrasts international efforts on pre-exascale and early exascale plans. The study – Analysis of the Characteristics and Development Trends of the Next-Generation of Supercomputers in Foreign Countries – was contracted by RIKEN, completed last December, and posted last week on the RIKEN web site.

Much of the material is familiar to exascale race watchers but gathering it all in one place is fascinating and useful. RIKEN has made the report freely available and downloadable as a PDF from its website. It’s worth noting the report’s authors were formerly the core team of IDC’s HPC research group and now are members of Hyperion Research which was spun out of IDC this year. Despite the study’s length (70-plus pages) it is a quick read and the tables are well-worth scanning. Much of the focus is on the next round of leadership class computing supercomputers (pre-exascale machines) about which more is known but there is also considerable discussion exascale technology.

For supercomputer junkies, there’s a table for nearly every aspect. Below are two sample: 1) systems covered in this report and their current/planned performance and 2) memory systems either in use or planned.

There are many more tables covering topics such as architecture and node design, MTBF, interconnect, compilers and middleware, etc. A complete list of the 30 tables is at the end of the article and is a good surrogate for the reports scope.

Here’s the top line summary in an excerpt from the report: “Looking at the strengths and weaknesses in exascale plans and capabilities of different countries:

  • The U.S. has multiple programs, strong funding and many HPC vendors, but has to deal with changing federal support, a major legacy technology burden, and a growing HPC labor shortage.
  • Europe has strong software programs and a few hardware efforts, plus EU funding and support appears to be growing, and they have Bull, but they have to deal with 28 different countries and a weak investment community.
  • China has had major funding support, has installed many very large systems, and is developing its own core technologies, but has a smaller user base, many different custom systems and currently is experiencing low utilization of its largest computers.”

As noted earlier, while the report breaks little new ground its comprehensive view of these leading 15 supercomputer systems and side-by-side comparison is a useful resource. The list of tables is below along with a link to the report.

Link to report: http://www.aics.riken.jp/aicssite/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Analysis-of-the-Characteristics-and-Development-Trends.pdf

List of Tables

Table 1 The Supercomputers Evaluated in This Study

Table 2 System Attributes: Planned Performance

Table 3 System Attributes: Architecture and Node Design

Table 4 System Attributes: Power

Table 5 System Attributes: MTBF Rates

Table 6 System Attributes: KPIs (key performance indicators)

Table 7 Comparison of System Prices

Table 8 Comparison of System Prices: Who’s Paying for It?

Table 9 Ease-of-Use: Planned New Features

Table 10 Ease-of-Use: Porting/Running of New Codes on a New Computer

Table 11 Ease-of-Use: Missing Items that Reduce Ease-of-Use

Table 12 Ease-of-Use: Overall Ability to Run Leadership Class Problems

Table 13 Hardware Attributes: Processors

Table 14 Hardware Attributes: Memory Systems

Table 15 Hardware Attributes: Interconnects

Table 16 Hardware Attributes: Storage

Table 17 Hardware Attributes: Cooling

Table 18 Hardware Attributes: Special Hardware

Table 19 Hardware Attributes: Estimated System Utilization

Table 20 Software Attributes: OS and Special Software

Table 21 Software Attributes: File Systems

Table 22 Software Attributes: Compilers and Middleware

Table 23 Software Attributes: Other Software

Table 24 R&D Plans

Table 25 R&D Plans: Partnerships

Table 27 Additional Comments & Observations

Table 28 IDC Assessment of the Major Exascale Providers: USA

Table 29 IDC Assessment of the Major Exascale Providers: Europe/EMEA

Table 30 Assessment of Exascale Providers: China 59

* No table 26

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