IBM Cloud Floats Power9 ‘Volta’ Servers

By Tiffany Trader

March 22, 2018

At IBM’s inaugural Think 2018 conference and third US-based OpenPower summit, the tech giant is trumpeting swelling momentum for its OpenPower ecosystem and traction for Power9, including Google’s disclosure that its custom-built (by Rackspace) Power9 “Zaius” servers are “Google strong,” i.e., market ready. IBM is also welcoming the Power servers, backed by Nvidia V100 GPUs, into its cloud.

IBM Power System AC922

In a blog post on “bringing security and AI to the IBM cloud” Ross Mauri, general manager, IBM Z, and John Considine, general manager, IBM Cloud Infrastructure, revealed the availability of the Power9-based AC922 (“Witherspoon”) systems in the company’s cloud. The new servers with two 16-core Power9 chips and four Nvidia Tesla V100 GPUs are said to provide a 4x speedup for deep learning training compared to competitive Intel hardware, according to internal testing by IBM*.

While hailing the advantages of its Power servers’ unique support for the CPU-to-GPU NVLink interface (which offers a 5-10x speedup in communications over PCIe gen3), IBM has been slow to bring HPC-class Power architectures into its own cloud, even ceding first-mover bragging rights to partner and HPC cloud vendor Nimbix, which deployed the Power8 Minsky technology in 2016 (and was the first public cloud provider to do so). [Nimbix is also announcing Power9 on its cloud, which we cover in-depth here.]

IBM was an early adopter of Nvidia’s high-end Pascal and Volta GPU gear, but used the PCIe variants within x86 Intel servers. Why IBM held out on putting Power in its cloud is a bit of a head-scratcher since the company believes it has the superior technology (with Power) and strategy (with OpenPower) to put a dent in Intel’s game. If IBM’s cloud customers weren’t ready, that’s understandable, but for the sake of optics alone, it’s surprising IBM didn’t make the move earlier.

At any rate, now there is some critical mass happening for Power/OpenPower (covered here) and IBM Cloud is moving to embrace it. PowerAI will also be brought into the IBM Cloud, with planned availability for next quarter. The suite of artificial intelligence tools supporting popular frameworks like TensorFlow, Torch and Caffe was developed and optimized for IBM’s accelerated Power servers, so it’s only natural that it would be included.

In addition, IBM announced it is integrating SAP HANA on Power into the IBM Cloud as an SAP-certified managed application service. “Through this integrated approach of hardware and software, IBM is the first to offer this level of cloud support for massive workloads of up to 24 TB by using IBM Power Systems and IBM Storage,” said Mauir and Considine.

In a press briefing at IBM Think, Senior Vice President IBM Cognitive Systems Bob Picciano said the traditional approach to high-performance computing is undergoing disruption from the fast growing GPU-accelerated approach. “We’re democratizing hardware-software integration,” Picciano told HPCwire. He cited Snap ML on Power9 as an example, referring to the new library developed by the IBM Zurich Research that “trains models faster than you can snap your fingers.”

Using an online advertising (click stream) dataset released by Criteo Labs with over 4 billion training examples, the Zurich team trained a logistic regression classifier across four IBM Power System AC922 servers, each with four Nvidia Tesla V100 GPUs. Training was accomplished in just 91.5 seconds, a 46x speedup over the previous best result reported by Google, which used TensorFlow on Google Cloud Platform to train the same model in 70 minutes (more info here). “We’re seeing that pattern repeatedly with machine learning and deep learning once you move into Power9 on the GPU stack,” said Picciano.

While IBM rolls out Power9/OpenPower in the enterprise, it has already made a splash in leadership supercomputing with the DOE Power9-based CORAL machines Summit and Sierra. On track for acceptance this summer, the systems, which cost $325 million to develop and manufacture, will be the largest in the United States; and Summit, with an expected 200-petaflops of peak performance, is in the running to be the world’s fastest supercomputer, as measured by the long-running Linpack benchmark.

* Results are based on IBM Internal Measurements running the CUDA H2D Bandwidth Test Hardware: Power AC922; 32 cores (2 x 16c chips), POWER9 with NVLink 2.0; 2.25 GHz, 1024 GB memory, 4xTesla V100 GPU; Ubuntu 16.04. S822LC for HPC; 20 cores (2 x 10c chips), POWER8 with NVLink; 2.86 GHz, 512 GB memory, Tesla P100 GPU  Competitive HW: 2x Xeon E5-2640 v4; 20 cores (2 x 10c chips) / 40 threads; Intel Xeon E5-2640 v4; 2.4 GHz; 1024 GB memory, 4xTesla V100 GPU, Ubuntu 16.04

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!

Nvidia Leads Alpha MLPerf Benchmarking Round

December 12, 2018

Seven months after the launch of its AI benchmarking suite, the MLPerf consortium is releasing the first round of results based on submissions from Nvidia, Google and Intel. Of the seven benchmarks encompassed in version Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

IBM, Nvidia in AI Data Pipeline, Processing, Storage Union

December 11, 2018

IBM and Nvidia today announced a new turnkey AI solution that combines IBM Spectrum Scale scale-out file storage with Nvidia’s GPU-based DGX-1 AI server to provide what the companies call the “the highest performance 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…

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

Nvidia Leads Alpha MLPerf Benchmarking Round

December 12, 2018

Seven months after the launch of its AI benchmarking suite, the MLPerf consortium is releasing the first round of results based on submissions from Nvidia, Goog Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM, Nvidia in AI Data Pipeline, Processing, Storage Union

December 11, 2018

IBM and Nvidia today announced a new turnkey AI solution that combines IBM Spectrum Scale scale-out file storage with Nvidia’s GPU-based DGX-1 AI server to pr Read more…

By Doug Black

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 cr 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

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 concepts, so it is intriguing to see that many applications are being recast to use topology. For instance, looking for weather and climate patterns. 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

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

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

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

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