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!

Neural Network ‘Synapse’ Technology Showcased at IEEE Meeting

December 12, 2018

There’s nice snapshot of advancing work to develop improved neural network “synapse” technologies posted yesterday on IEEE Spectrum. Lower power, ease of use, manufacturability, and performance are all key paramete Read more…

By John Russell

Is Amazon’s Plunge into Server Chips a Watershed Moment?

December 11, 2018

For several years now the big cloud providers – Amazon, Microsoft Azure, Google, et al – have been transforming from technology consumers into technology creators in hardware and software. The most recent example bei Read more…

By John Russell

Mellanox Uses Univa to Extend Silicon Design HPC Operation to Azure

December 11, 2018

Call it a corollary to Murphy’s Law: When a system is most in demand, when end users are most dependent on the system performing as required, when it’s crunch time – that’s when the system is most likely to blow up. Or make you wait in line to use it. Read more…

By Doug Black

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

AI Can Be Scary. But Choosing the Wrong Partners Can Be Mortifying!

As you continue to dive deeper into AI, you will discover it is more than just deep learning. AI is an extremely complex set of machine learning, deep learning, reinforcement, and analytics algorithms with varying compute, storage, memory, and communications needs. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Blurring the Lines Between HPC and AI @ SC18

The dominant topic at SC18 was the convergence of HPC and Artificial Intelligence (AI) with some of the biggest research and enterprise HPC users providing perspectives on how HPC and AI are moving closer together. Read more…

Clemson’s Cautionary Cryptomining Tale

December 11, 2018

In some ways, the bigger the computer, the more vulnerable it is to cryptomining as Clemson University discovered after cryptominers dug into its Palmetto supercomputer. When a number of nodes on Clemson University’s P Read more…

By Staff

Topology Can Help Us Find Patterns in Weather

December 6, 2018

Topology--–the study of shapes-- seems to be all the rage. You could even say that data has shape, and shape matters. Shapes are comfortable and familiar conc Read more…

By James Reinders

Zettascale by 2035? China Thinks So

December 6, 2018

Exascale machines (of at least a 1 exaflops peak) are anticipated to arrive by around 2020, a few years behind original predictions; and given extreme-scale performance challenges are not getting any easier, it makes sense that researchers are already looking ahead to the next big 1,000x performance goal post: zettascale computing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Robust Quantum Computers Still a Decade Away, Says Nat’l Academies Report

December 5, 2018

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine yesterday released a report – Quantum Computing: Progress and Prospects – whose optimism about Read more…

By John Russell

Revisiting the 2008 Exascale Computing Study at SC18

November 29, 2018

A report published a decade ago conveyed the results of a study aimed at determining if it were possible to achieve 1000X the computational power of the the Read more…

By Scott Gibson

AWS Debuts Lustre as a Service, Accelerates Data Transfer

November 28, 2018

From the Amazon re:Invent main stage in Las Vegas today, Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy introduced Amazon FSx for Lustre, citing a growing body of applicati Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AWS Launches First Arm Cloud Instances

November 28, 2018

AWS, a macrocosm of the emerging high-performance technology landscape, wants to be everywhere you want to be and offer everything you want to use (or at least Read more…

By Doug Black

Move Over Lustre & Spectrum Scale – Here Comes BeeGFS?

November 26, 2018

Is BeeGFS – the parallel file system with European roots – on a path to compete with Lustre and Spectrum Scale worldwide in HPC environments? Frank Herold Read more…

By John Russell

DOE Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar Interviewed at SC18

November 21, 2018

During the 30th annual SC conference in Dallas last week, SC18 hosted U.S. Department of Energy Under Secretary for Science Paul M. Dabbar. In attendance Nov. 13-14, Dabbar delivered remarks at the Top500 panel, met with a number of industry stakeholders and toured the show floor. He also met with HPCwire for an interview, where we discussed the role of the DOE in advancing leadership computing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quantum Computing Will Never Work

November 27, 2018

Amid the gush of money and enthusiastic predictions being thrown at quantum computing comes a proposed cold shower in the form of an essay by physicist Mikhail Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Unveils Shasta, Lands NERSC-9 Contract

October 30, 2018

Cray revealed today the details of its next-gen supercomputing architecture, Shasta, selected to be the next flagship system at NERSC. We've known of the code-name "Shasta" since the Argonne slice of the CORAL project was announced in 2015 and although the details of that plan have changed considerably, Cray didn't slow down its timeline for Shasta. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM at Hot Chips: What’s Next for Power

August 23, 2018

With processor, memory and networking technologies all racing to fill in for an ailing Moore’s law, the era of the heterogeneous datacenter is well underway, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

House Passes $1.275B National Quantum Initiative

September 17, 2018

Last Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Quantum Initiative Act (NQIA) intended to accelerate quantum computing research and developm Read more…

By John Russell

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

CERN Project Sees Orders-of-Magnitude Speedup with AI Approach

August 14, 2018

An award-winning effort at CERN has demonstrated potential to significantly change how the physics based modeling and simulation communities view machine learni Read more…

By Rob Farber

AMD Sets Up for Epyc Epoch

November 16, 2018

It’s been a good two weeks, AMD’s Gary Silcott and Andy Parma told me on the last day of SC18 in Dallas at the restaurant where we met to discuss their show news and recent successes. Heck, it’s been a good year. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Leads Supercomputing with #1, #2 Systems & Petascale Arm

November 12, 2018

The 31st Supercomputing Conference (SC) - commemorating 30 years since the first Supercomputing in 1988 - kicked off in Dallas yesterday, taking over the Kay Ba Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

SC 18 Virtual Booth Video Tour

Advania @ SC18 AMD @ SC18
ASRock Rack @ SC18
DDN Storage @ SC18
HPE @ SC18
IBM @ SC18
Lenovo @ SC18 Mellanox Technologies @ SC18
NVIDIA @ SC18
One Stop Systems @ SC18
Oracle @ SC18 Panasas @ SC18
Supermicro @ SC18 SUSE @ SC18 TYAN @ SC18
Verne Global @ SC18

TACC’s ‘Frontera’ Supercomputer Expands Horizon for Extreme-Scale Science

August 29, 2018

The National Science Foundation and the Texas Advanced Computing Center announced today that a new system, called Frontera, will overtake Stampede 2 as the fast Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE No. 1, IBM Surges, in ‘Bucking Bronco’ High Performance Server Market

September 27, 2018

Riding healthy U.S. and global economies, strong demand for AI-capable hardware and other tailwind trends, the high performance computing server market jumped 28 percent in the second quarter 2018 to $3.7 billion, up from $2.9 billion for the same period last year, according to industry analyst firm Hyperion Research. Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia’s Jensen Huang Delivers Vision for the New HPC

November 14, 2018

For nearly two hours on Monday at SC18, Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, presented his expansive view of the future of HPC (and computing in general) as only he can do. Animated. Backstopped by a stream of data charts, product photos, and even a beautiful image of supernovae... Read more…

By John Russell

Germany Celebrates Launch of Two Fastest Supercomputers

September 26, 2018

The new high-performance computer SuperMUC-NG at the Leibniz Supercomputing Center (LRZ) in Garching is the fastest computer in Germany and one of the fastest i Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Houston to Field Massive, ‘Geophysically Configured’ Cloud Supercomputer

October 11, 2018

Based on some news stories out today, one might get the impression that the next system to crack number one on the Top500 would be an industrial oil and gas mon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Confirms 48-Core Cascade Lake-AP for 2019

November 4, 2018

As part of the run-up to SC18, taking place in Dallas next week (Nov. 11-16), Intel is doling out info on its next-gen Cascade Lake family of Xeon processors, specifically the “Advanced Processor” version (Cascade Lake-AP), architected for high-performance computing, artificial intelligence and infrastructure-as-a-service workloads. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Releases Machine Learning “What-If” Analysis Tool

September 12, 2018

Training machine learning models has long been time-consuming process. Yesterday, Google released a “What-If Tool” for probing how data point changes affect a model’s prediction. The new tool is being launched as a new feature of the open source TensorBoard web application... Read more…

By John Russell

The Convergence of Big Data and Extreme-Scale HPC

August 31, 2018

As we are heading towards extreme-scale HPC coupled with data intensive analytics like machine learning, the necessary integration of big data and HPC is a curr Read more…

By Rob Farber

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