SciNet Launches Niagara, Canada’s Fastest Supercomputer

By Tiffany Trader

March 5, 2018

SciNet and the University of Toronto today unveiled “Niagara,” Canada’s most-powerful supercomputer, comprising 1,500 dense Lenovo ThinkSystem SD530 high-performance compute nodes. Delivering 3 petaflops of Linpack performance, Niagara serves researchers across Canada in fields spanning artificial intelligence, astrophysics, high-energy physics, climate change, oceanic research and other disciplines using big data.

Lenovo ThinkSystem SD530

“There isn’t a single field of research that can happen without high-performance computing,” said SciNet’s CTO Daniel Gruner in a video presentation. “All Canadians will benefit from Niagara because basic research, fundamental research, is so important to the development of what we now call applied research. Without the basic research nothing can happen.”

Each of the system’s 1,500 nodes comes outfitted with two 20-core Intel Xeon Gold 6148 (2.4GHz) CPUs and 200 GB (188 GiB) of DDR4 memory. Filling up 21 racks, nodes are interconnected using Mellanox InfiniBand in a DragonFly+ topology and supported by more than 12 petabytes of Lenovo DSS-G high performance storage, based on IBM’s SpectrumScale file system. There is also a 256TB burst buffer (NVMe fabric, up to 160 GB/s) provided by Excelero for fast I/O.

Installation commenced at the end of November and acceptance testing was completed at the end of February. To break in Canada’s powerful research supercomputer, University of Toronto’s renowned climate scientist Richard Peltier is running a heroic ocean modeling calculation across the entirety of the machine. The work, already underway, is expected to lead to a greater understanding of the impact of ocean floor topologies on wave physics. The job is expected to take between one day and one week depending on resolution parameters; running an equivalent workload on the previous SciNet infrastructure would have taken roughly 20 times longer, according to the research team.

Niagara is replacing SciNet’s aging General Purpose Cluster (GPC) and Tightly Coupled Cluster (TCS), which have been providing Canada’s largest supercomputing center with the bulk of its compute cycles since 2009. TCS was SciNet’s first supercomputer; the 102-node IBM Power6 system was decommissioned and removed last year to make room for Niagara. GPC, SciNet’s 3,780-node IBM iDataPlex cluster, has been reduced by half and will be fully decommissioned when Niagara enters full production, which is expected to take place next month.

Niagara is one of four new systems being deployed to Compute Canada host sites. The others are Arbutus, a Lenovo-built OpenStack cloud system being deployed at the University of Victoria; Cedar, a 3.7-petaflop (peak) Dell system installed at Simon Fraser University, and Graham, a 2.6-petaflop (peak) Huawei-made cluster, located at the University of Waterloo.

With a peak theoretical speed of 4.61 petaflops and a Linpack Rmax of 3 petaflops, Niagara ranks among the top 10 percent of fastest publicly benchmarked computers in the world today. System maker Lenovo has made both HPC and supercomputing a priority since it acquired IBM’s x86 business for $2.1 billion in 2014 and its ambitions aren’t stopping. It’s deployed the fastest systems in Spain, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Australia, Canada, and soon in Germany with Leibniz Supercomputing Center, and it counts 87 Top500 systems (inclusive of all Top500 Lenovo classifications, i.e., Lenovo (81), Lenovo/IBM (3), IBM/Lenovo (2) and this collaboration). This puts it in second place by system share, behind HPE, and in third place after Cray and HPE based on aggregate list performance.

These system wins are part of an aggressive strategy that Lenovo is pursuing to become number one in HPC and supercomputing. “We want to be not just the fastest growing, which we are today both in HPC and Top500, but we want to be the largest by 2020,” Kirk Skaugen, executive vice president and president of the Data Center Group, told HPCwire in an interview at Supercomputing in Denver.

Lenovo’s third-quarter datacenter business exceeded Wall Street’s expectations, coming in at $1.2 billion in revenue, the highest in two years. This is 17 percent over the same period last year, and a significant increase of 26 percent over the previous quarter.

Speakers at this morning’s launch included (from left to right): Nizar Ladak, President and CEO, Compute Ontario; Dr. Richard Peltier, Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Physicist, University of Toronto; Minister Reza Moridi, Ministry of Research Innovation and Science; Dr. Roseann O’Reilly Runte, President and CEO, Canada Foundation for Innovation; and Dr. Vivek Goel, Vice President, Research and Innovation, University of Toronto.

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!

ISC21 Cluster Competition Bracketology

June 18, 2021

For the first time ever, cluster competition experts have gathered together for an actual seeding reveal for the ISC21 Student Cluster Competition. What’s this, you ask? It’s where bona fide student cluster competi Read more…

OSC Enables On-Demand HPC for Automotive Engineering Firm

June 18, 2021

In motorsports, vehicle designers are constantly looking for the tiniest sliver of time to shave off through some clever piece of engineering – but as the low-hanging fruit gets snatched up, those advances are getting Read more…

PNNL Researchers Unveil Tool to Accelerate CGRA Development

June 18, 2021

Moore’s law is in decline due to the physical limits of transistor chips, putting an expiration date on a hitherto-perennial exponential trend in computing power – and leaving hardware developers scrambling to contin Read more…

TU Wien Announces VSC-5, Austria’s Most Powerful Supercomputer

June 17, 2021

Austria is getting a new top supercomputer: VSC-5, the latest iteration of the Vienna Scientific Cluster. The news was announced by VSC-5’s soon-to-be home, TU Wien (also known as the Vienna University of Technology). Read more…

Supercomputing Helps Advance Hydrogen Energy Research

June 16, 2021

Hydrogen energy has long remained an elusive target of the renewable energy industry, promising clean, carbon-free energy that would allow for rapid refueling, unlike current battery-based electric vehicles. Hydrogen-bas Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Accelerating research and development for new medical treatments

Today, more than 290,000 researchers in France are working to provide better support and care for patients through modern medical treatment. To fulfill their mission, these researchers must be equipped with powerful tools. Read more…

FF4EuroHPC Initiative Highlights Results of First Open Call

June 16, 2021

EuroHPC is kicking into high gear, with seven of its first eight systems detailed – and one of them already operational. While the systems are, perhaps, the flashiest endeavor of the European Commission’s HPC effort, Read more…

ISC21 Cluster Competition Bracketology

June 18, 2021

For the first time ever, cluster competition experts have gathered together for an actual seeding reveal for the ISC21 Student Cluster Competition. What’s t Read more…

TU Wien Announces VSC-5, Austria’s Most Powerful Supercomputer

June 17, 2021

Austria is getting a new top supercomputer: VSC-5, the latest iteration of the Vienna Scientific Cluster. The news was announced by VSC-5’s soon-to-be home, T Read more…

Catching up with ISC 2021 Digital Program Chair Martin Schulz

June 16, 2021

Leibniz Research Centre (LRZ)’s content creator Susanne Vieser interviews ISC 2021 Digital Program Chair, Prof. Martin Schulz to gain an understanding of his ISC affiliation, which is outside his usual scope of work at the research center and the Technical University of Munich. Read more…

Intel Debuts ‘Infrastructure Processing Unit’ as Part of Broader XPU Strategy

June 15, 2021

To boost the performance of busy CPUs hosted by cloud service providers, Intel Corp. has launched a new line of Infrastructure Processing Units (IPUs) that take Read more…

ISC Keynote: Glimpse into Microsoft’s View of the Quantum Computing Landscape

June 15, 2021

Looking for a dose of reality and realistic optimism about quantum computing? Matthias Troyer, Microsoft distinguished scientist, plans to do just that in his ISC2021 keynote in two weeks – Quantum Computing: From Academic Research to Real-world Applications. He notes wryly that classical... Read more…

A Carbon Crisis Looms Over Supercomputing. How Do We Stop It?

June 11, 2021

Supercomputing is extraordinarily power-hungry, with many of the top systems measuring their peak demand in the megawatts due to powerful processors and their c Read more…

Honeywell Quantum and Cambridge Quantum Plan to Merge; More to Follow?

June 10, 2021

Earlier this week, Honeywell announced plans to merge its quantum computing business, Honeywell Quantum Solutions (HQS), which focuses on trapped ion hardware, Read more…

ISC21 Keynoter Xiaoxiang Zhu to Deliver a Bird’s-Eye View of a Changing World

June 10, 2021

ISC High Performance 2021 – once again virtual due to the ongoing pandemic – is swiftly approaching. In contrast to last year’s conference, which canceled Read more…

AMD Chipmaker TSMC to Use AMD Chips for Chipmaking

May 8, 2021

TSMC has tapped AMD to support its major manufacturing and R&D workloads. AMD will provide its Epyc Rome 7702P CPUs – with 64 cores operating at a base cl Read more…

Intel Launches 10nm ‘Ice Lake’ Datacenter CPU with Up to 40 Cores

April 6, 2021

The wait is over. Today Intel officially launched its 10nm datacenter CPU, the third-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor, codenamed Ice Lake. With up to 40 Read more…

Berkeley Lab Debuts Perlmutter, World’s Fastest AI Supercomputer

May 27, 2021

A ribbon-cutting ceremony held virtually at Berkeley Lab's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) today marked the official launch of Perlmutter – aka NERSC-9 – the GPU-accelerated supercomputer built by HPE in partnership with Nvidia and AMD. Read more…

Google Launches TPU v4 AI Chips

May 20, 2021

Google CEO Sundar Pichai spoke for only one minute and 42 seconds about the company’s latest TPU v4 Tensor Processing Units during his keynote at the Google I Read more…

CERN Is Betting Big on Exascale

April 1, 2021

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) involves 23 countries, 15,000 researchers, billions of dollars a year, and the biggest machine in the worl Read more…

Iran Gains HPC Capabilities with Launch of ‘Simorgh’ Supercomputer

May 18, 2021

Iran is said to be developing domestic supercomputing technology to advance the processing of scientific, economic, political and military data, and to strengthen the nation’s position in the age of AI and big data. On Sunday, Iran unveiled the Simorgh supercomputer, which will deliver.... Read more…

HPE Launches Storage Line Loaded with IBM’s Spectrum Scale File System

April 6, 2021

HPE today launched a new family of storage solutions bundled with IBM’s Spectrum Scale Erasure Code Edition parallel file system (description below) and featu Read more…

Quantum Computer Start-up IonQ Plans IPO via SPAC

March 8, 2021

IonQ, a Maryland-based quantum computing start-up working with ion trap technology, plans to go public via a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) merger a Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

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…

AMD Launches Epyc ‘Milan’ with 19 SKUs for HPC, Enterprise and Hyperscale

March 15, 2021

At a virtual launch event held today (Monday), AMD revealed its third-generation Epyc “Milan” CPU lineup: a set of 19 SKUs -- including the flagship 64-core, 280-watt 7763 part --  aimed at HPC, enterprise and cloud workloads. Notably, the third-gen Epyc Milan chips achieve 19 percent... Read more…

Julia Update: Adoption Keeps Climbing; Is It a Python Challenger?

January 13, 2021

The rapid adoption of Julia, the open source, high level programing language with roots at MIT, shows no sign of slowing according to data from Julialang.org. I Read more…

Can Deep Learning Replace Numerical Weather Prediction?

March 3, 2021

Numerical weather prediction (NWP) is a mainstay of supercomputing. Some of the first applications of the first supercomputers dealt with climate modeling, and Read more…

GTC21: Nvidia Launches cuQuantum; Dips a Toe in Quantum Computing

April 13, 2021

Yesterday Nvidia officially dipped a toe into quantum computing with the launch of cuQuantum SDK, a development platform for simulating quantum circuits on GPU-accelerated systems. As Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang emphasized in his keynote, Nvidia doesn’t plan to build... Read more…

Microsoft to Provide World’s Most Powerful Weather & Climate Supercomputer for UK’s Met Office

April 22, 2021

More than 14 months ago, the UK government announced plans to invest £1.2 billion ($1.56 billion) into weather and climate supercomputing, including procuremen Read more…

African Supercomputing Center Inaugurates ‘Toubkal,’ Most Powerful Supercomputer on the Continent

February 25, 2021

Historically, Africa hasn’t exactly been synonymous with supercomputing. There are only a handful of supercomputers on the continent, with few ranking on the Read more…

The History of Supercomputing vs. COVID-19

March 9, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a greater challenge to the high-performance computing community than any before. HPCwire's coverage of the supercomputing response t Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire