Intel® Omni-Path Architecture and Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processor Family Enable Breakthrough Science on 13.7 petaFLOPS MareNostrum 4

December 11, 2017

In publicly and privately funded computational science research, dollars (or Euros in this case) follow FLOPS. And when you’re one of the leading computing centers in Europe with a reputation around the world of highly reliable, leading edge technology resources, you look for the best in supercomputing in order to continue supporting breakthrough research. Thus, Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) is driven to build leading supercomputing clusters for its research clients in the public and private sectors.

MareNostrum 4 is nestled within the Torre Girona chapel

“We have the privilege of users coming back to us each year to run their projects,” said Sergio Girona, BSC’s Operations Department Director. “They return because we reliably provide the technology and services they need year after year, and because our systems are of the highest level.” Supported by the Spanish and Catalan governments and funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness with €34 million in 2015, BSC sought to take its MareNostrum 3 system to the next-generation of computing capabilities. It specified multiple clusters for both general computational needs of ongoing research, and for development of next-generation codes based on emerging supercomputing technologies and tools for the Exascale computing era. It fell to IBM, who partnered with Fujitsu and Lenovo, to design and build MareNostrum 4.

MareNostrum 4 is a multi-cluster system which main cluster and data storage are interconnected by the Intel® Omni-Path Architecture (Intel® OPA) fabric. A general-purpose compute cluster, with 3,456 nodes of Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processor Product Family will provide up to 11.1 petaFLOPS of computational capacity. A smaller cluster delivering up to 0.5 petaFLOPS is built on the Intel® Xeon Phi™ Processor 7250. A third small cluster up to 1.5 petaFLOPS will include Power9* and Nvidia GPUs, and a fourth one, made of ARM v8 processors, will provide other 0.5 petaFLOPS of performance. And an IBM storage array will round out the system. All systems are interconnected with the storage subsystem. MareNostrum 4 is designed to be twelve times faster than its predecessor.

Spain’s 13.7 petaFLOPS supercomputer contributes to the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) and supports the Spanish Supercomputing Network (RES).

“From my point of view,” stated Girona, “Intel had, at the time of the procurement, the best processor for general purpose systems. Intel is very good on specific domains, and they continue to innovate in other domains. That is why we chose Intel processors for the general-purpose cluster and Intel Xeon Phi Processor for one of the emerging technology clusters, on which we can explore new code development.” The system was in production by July 2017 and placed at number 13 in the June 2017 Top500 list and number 16 on the November 2017 list.

“The Barcelona Supercomputing Center team is committed to maximizing MareNostrum in any way we can,” concluded Girona. “But MareNostrum is not about us. Our purpose at BSC is to help others. We are successful when the scientists and engineers using MareNostrum’s computing power get all the data they need to further their discoveries. It is always rewarding to know we help others to further cutting-edge scientific exploration.”

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