US Exascale Program – Some Additional Clarity

By Alex R. Larzelere

September 28, 2017

Editor’s note: Our Policy Editor Alex Larzelere, senior fellow at the Council on Competitiveness in Washington DC, has been helping us keep close tabs on United States supercomputing targets and exascale-focused budget activities. Larzelere was in Virginia this week for the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) meeting and shares his insights on the expanded Aurora supercomputer, in play to become the first US exascale machine in 2021, and overall progress of the United States exascale program.

The last time we left the Department of Energy’s exascale computing program in July, things were looking very positive. Both the U.S. House and Senate had passed solid Fiscal Year 2018 (FY-18) appropriations for the exascale activities for both the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Office of Science (SC). However, it also looked like there would be potential major challenges with other parts of the DOE’s budget. These included significant differences with some programs, such as ARPA-E that was over $300 million apart between the House and Senate appropriation bills.

After its August recess, Congress was expected to have some major budget fights in September. This not only included reconciling the difference between the versions of House and Senate appropriations, but also the question of raising the U.S. debt ceiling. Then on September 6th, those potential fights came to a sudden end when President Trump reached an agreement with the House and Senate Democratic leaders for a FY-18 Continuing Budget Resolution (CR) and to raise the government debt ceiling until early December 2017. That effectively maintains the Exascale FY-17 status quo in the short term. From a funding perspective, things for the exascale program continue to look very good.

On September 26th and 27th, some more clarity about the technical aspects of the program was provided during the public SC Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) meeting. The ASCAC is a regular meeting of the officially endorsed Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) group that provides advice to Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program. During the meeting, Barb Helland, the associate director for the ASCR office, provided a presentation about the status of the their activities (link). The presentation included some very interesting information about the status of the SC Exascale program.

On slide number 7, she told the ASCAC that there had been a shift in the delivery of the Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) Aurora system. That computer had originally been scheduled to be delivered in 2018 with a performance of 180 petaflops. However, the revised plan for the system is for a 1,000 petaflops (or 1 exaflops) computer to be delivered in 2021. The machine would use “novel technology choices” and would focus on the three pillars of simulation, big data, and machine learning. This shift in the program seems to explain the House’s concern “that the deployment plan for an exascale machine has undergone major changes without an appropriately defined cost and performance baseline.”

Ms. Helland reported that the shift in the machine architecture had been subject to a review in September of 2017 and had received very favorable comments. These included, “The system as presented is exciting with many novel technology choices that can change the way computing is done. The committee supports the bold strategy and innovation, which is required to meet the targets of exascale computing. The committee sees a credible path to success.” Another comment was, “The hardware choices/design within the node is extremely well thought through. Early projections suggest that the system will support a broad workload.” She also reported that a Rebaseline Independent Project Review was scheduled for November 7th to 9th.

Another important piece of news was about the status of the installation of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Leadership Computing Facility’s Summit computer. This is expected to be a 150 petaflops computer based on the IBM Power9 processors with Nvidia Volta graphic processing units (GPUs). During the meeting, it was reported that the system cabinets had been installed along with the interconnection switches. The computer node boards are expected to arrive sometime towards the end of October and that acceptance testing would start soon after that. It was also reported, that installation of the NNSA’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) Sierra computer (similar to Summit) was also underway. One interesting feature of the ORNL computers is that they are installed on a concrete slab with all of the supporting wiring and cooling coming from overhead.

During her presentation, Barb Helland made the point that ASCR would soon be releasing information about the procurement of additional exascale systems to be delivered in the 2022 timeframe. No details were provided, but she explained that these systems would be follow-on systems to the ones delivered as part of the CORAL procurement.

Finally, there were two other interesting exascale revelations during the ASCAC meeting. One was the clarification of the differences between the acronyms of ECI and ECP that appeared in the President’s budget request. Slide number 5 provides the definitions of the terms and states that the ECI (Exascale Computing Initiative) is the partnership between the NNSA and SC. On the other hand, ECP (Exascale Computing Project) is a subprogram within ASCR (SC-ECP) and includes only support for research and development activities in applications, and in partnership with NNSA, investments in software and hardware technology and co- design required for the design of capable exascale computers. The other revelation is that Paul Messina of ANL, the founding director of ECP, is stepping down and will be replaced as of October 1st by Doug Kothe of ORNL. The ASCAC thanked Paul for his service to the country in establishing the foundations for the ECP.

All in all, the most recent ASCAC meeting provided some valuable insights into the U.S. exascale program. Certainly not all of the questions have been answered, but the information provided at the meeting helps to clarify the Department of Energy cutting edge computing program. Perhaps the best news is that the program is still receiving strong Presidential and Congressional support. However, the new December 2017 budget deadline continues to lurk in the background. Once again, more to come.

About the Author

Alex Larzelere is a senior fellow at the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, the president of Larzelere & Associates Consulting and HPCwire’s policy editor. He is currently a technologist, speaker and author on a number of disruptive technologies that include: advanced modeling and simulation; high performance computing; artificial intelligence; the Internet of Things; and additive manufacturing. Alex’s career has included time in federal service (working closely with DOE national labs), private industry, and as founder of a small business. Throughout that time, he led programs that implemented the use of cutting edge advanced computing technologies to enable high resolution, multi-physics simulations of complex physical systems. Alex is the author of “Delivering Insight: The History of the Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI).”

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!

Researchers Scale COSMO Climate Code to 4888 GPUs on Piz Daint

October 17, 2017

Effective global climate simulation, sorely needed to anticipate and cope with global warming, has long been computationally challenging. Two of the major obstacles are the needed resolution and prolonged time to compute Read more…

By John Russell

UCSD Web-based Tool Tracking CA Wildfires Generates 1.5M Views

October 16, 2017

Tracking the wildfires raging in northern CA is an unpleasant but necessary part of guiding efforts to fight the fires and safely evacuate affected residents. One such tool – Firemap – is a web-based tool developed b Read more…

By John Russell

Exascale Imperative: New Movie from HPE Makes a Compelling Case

October 13, 2017

Why is pursuing exascale computing so important? In a new video – Hewlett Packard Enterprise: Eighteen Zeros – four HPE executives, a prominent national lab HPC researcher, and HPCwire managing editor Tiffany Trader Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

“Lunch & Learn” to Explore the Growing Applications of Genomic Analytics

In the digital age of medicine, healthcare providers are rapidly transforming their approach to patient care. Traditional technologies are no longer sufficient to process vast quantities of medical data (including patient histories, treatment plans, diagnostic reports, and more), challenging organizations to invest in a new style of IT to enable faster and higher-quality care. Read more…

Intel Delivers 17-Qubit Quantum Chip to European Research Partner

October 10, 2017

On Tuesday, Intel delivered a 17-qubit superconducting test chip to research partner QuTech, the quantum research institute of Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands. The announcement marks a major milestone in the 10-year, $50-million collaborative relationship with TU Delft and TNO, the Dutch Organization for Applied Research, to accelerate advancements in quantum computing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Delivers 17-Qubit Quantum Chip to European Research Partner

October 10, 2017

On Tuesday, Intel delivered a 17-qubit superconducting test chip to research partner QuTech, the quantum research institute of Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands. The announcement marks a major milestone in the 10-year, $50-million collaborative relationship with TU Delft and TNO, the Dutch Organization for Applied Research, to accelerate advancements in quantum computing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fujitsu Tapped to Build 37-Petaflops ABCI System for AIST

October 10, 2017

Fujitsu announced today it will build the long-planned AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure (ABCI) which is set to become the fastest supercomputer system in Japan Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Chips – A Veritable Smorgasbord?

October 10, 2017

For the first time since AMD's ill-fated launch of Bulldozer the answer to the question, 'Which CPU will be in my next HPC system?' doesn't have to be 'Whichever variety of Intel Xeon E5 they are selling when we procure'. Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

Delays, Smoke, Records & Markets – A Candid Conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro

October 5, 2017

Earlier this month, Tom Tabor, publisher of HPCwire and I had a very personal conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro. Cray has been on something of a Cinderell Read more…

By Tiffany Trader & Tom Tabor

Intel Debuts Programmable Acceleration Card

October 5, 2017

With a view toward supporting complex, data-intensive applications, such as AI inference, video streaming analytics, database acceleration and genomics, Intel i Read more…

By Doug Black

OLCF’s 200 Petaflops Summit Machine Still Slated for 2018 Start-up

October 3, 2017

The Department of Energy’s planned 200 petaflops Summit computer, which is currently being installed at Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, is on track t Read more…

By John Russell

US Exascale Program – Some Additional Clarity

September 28, 2017

The last time we left the Department of Energy’s exascale computing program in July, things were looking very positive. Both the U.S. House and Senate had pas Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

US Coalesces Plans for First Exascale Supercomputer: Aurora in 2021

September 27, 2017

At the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) meeting, in Arlington, Va., yesterday (Sept. 26), it was revealed that the "Aurora" supercompute Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Reinders: “AVX-512 May Be a Hidden Gem” in Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

June 29, 2017

Imagine if we could use vector processing on something other than just floating point problems.  Today, GPUs and CPUs work tirelessly to accelerate algorithms Read more…

By James Reinders

NERSC Scales Scientific Deep Learning to 15 Petaflops

August 28, 2017

A collaborative effort between Intel, NERSC and Stanford has delivered the first 15-petaflops deep learning software running on HPC platforms and is, according Read more…

By Rob Farber

Oracle Layoffs Reportedly Hit SPARC and Solaris Hard

September 7, 2017

Oracle’s latest layoffs have many wondering if this is the end of the line for the SPARC processor and Solaris OS development. As reported by multiple sources Read more…

By John Russell

US Coalesces Plans for First Exascale Supercomputer: Aurora in 2021

September 27, 2017

At the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) meeting, in Arlington, Va., yesterday (Sept. 26), it was revealed that the "Aurora" supercompute Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Releases Deeplearn.js to Further Democratize Machine Learning

August 17, 2017

Spreading the use of machine learning tools is one of the goals of Google’s PAIR (People + AI Research) initiative, which was introduced in early July. Last w Read more…

By John Russell

Graphcore Readies Launch of 16nm Colossus-IPU Chip

July 20, 2017

A second $30 million funding round for U.K. AI chip developer Graphcore sets up the company to go to market with its “intelligent processing unit” (IPU) in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

GlobalFoundries Puts Wind in AMD’s Sails with 12nm FinFET

September 24, 2017

From its annual tech conference last week (Sept. 20), where GlobalFoundries welcomed more than 600 semiconductor professionals (reaching the Santa Clara venue Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Amazon Debuts New AMD-based GPU Instances for Graphics Acceleration

September 12, 2017

Last week Amazon Web Services (AWS) streaming service, AppStream 2.0, introduced a new GPU instance called Graphics Design intended to accelerate graphics. The Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

EU Funds 20 Million Euro ARM+FPGA Exascale Project

September 7, 2017

At the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre on Wednesday (Sept. 6), 16 partners gathered to launch the EuroEXA project, which invests €20 million over three-and-a-half years into exascale-focused research and development. Led by the Horizon 2020 program, EuroEXA picks up the banner of a triad of partner projects — ExaNeSt, EcoScale and ExaNoDe — building on their work... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray Moves to Acquire the Seagate ClusterStor Line

July 28, 2017

This week Cray announced that it is picking up Seagate's ClusterStor HPC storage array business for an undisclosed sum. "In short we're effectively transitioning the bulk of the ClusterStor product line to Cray," said CEO Peter Ungaro. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Delays, Smoke, Records & Markets – A Candid Conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro

October 5, 2017

Earlier this month, Tom Tabor, publisher of HPCwire and I had a very personal conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro. Cray has been on something of a Cinderell Read more…

By Tiffany Trader & Tom Tabor

Intel Launches Software Tools to Ease FPGA Programming

September 5, 2017

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) have a reputation for being difficult to program, requiring expertise in specialty languages, like Verilog or VHDL. Easin Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Advances Web-based Quantum Programming

September 5, 2017

IBM Research is pairing its Jupyter-based Data Science Experience notebook environment with its cloud-based quantum computer, IBM Q, in hopes of encouraging a new class of entrepreneurial user to solve intractable problems that even exceed the capabilities of the best AI systems. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Intel, NERSC and University Partners Launch New Big Data Center

August 17, 2017

A collaboration between the Department of Energy’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), Intel and five Intel Parallel Computing Cente Read more…

By Linda Barney

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This