Revisiting the 2008 Exascale Computing Study at SC18

By Scott Gibson

November 29, 2018

Jeffrey Vetter, Distinguished R&D Staff Member at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, led the SC18 Birds of a Feather session “Revisiting the 2008 ExaScale Computing Study and Venturing Predictions for 2028.”

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 then-emerging petascale systems at a system power of no more than 20 MW. On November 14 at the SC18 supercomputing conference in Dallas, some of the original contributors to the report participated in a Birds of a Feather session in which they reflected on the document, sharing what they deemed to be its hits and misses and making predictions for 2028.

Session leader, Jeffrey Vetter of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, said the 2008 report, titled “Exascale Computing Study: Technology Challenges in Achieving Exascale Systems,” has been cited more than 1,000 times and that many people look to it to understand what research agendas they should undertake and to consider what are the most salient challenges to be faced in high-performance computing.

The study was sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) with Bill Harrod as program manager. The report represents the ideas of people from universities, industry, and research labs collected during periodic meetings conducted during the course of more than a year.

Harrod, who is now program manager for the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), told the BoF audience that consideration of petascale system specifications as they existed at the time informed the study group members’ assumptions about exascale. Petascale systems operated at about 13 MW with several hundred cabinets. Thus, the anticipated parameters for exascale were 1018 operations/second at 20 MW and with fewer than 500 cabinets. The pivotal big-picture questions, Harrod said, were whether an exascale system was needed and could it be used for scientific discovery and other practical purposes.

Two other studies, on software and resiliency, respectively, followed the study upon which the 2008 report was based. The resounding, overarching comment concerning the findings of the three studies, Harrod said, was that co-design would be essential. He added that although the co-design concept was not revolutionary, it was determined to be critical for ensuring hardware design would correspond properly with the intended uses for the system, and it became an integral aspect of the US Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Initiative (ECI) and Exascale Computing Project (ECP).

Peter Kogge of the University of Notre Dame led the Exascale Computing study and served as editor of the 2008 report. In his presentation for the BoF, he outlined four key challenges that surfaced from the study: energy and power, memory, concurrency, and resiliency. He also summarized the 2008 computing environment and what it was anticipated to look like by 2015, noting that the study team did not focus on application needs and the Roofline model. For matrix multiply like the High-Performance Linpack (HPL) benchmark, he said, having a large enough cache would supersede concerns about memory speed; and to reach a peak of 1 exaflops, the goal was to hit 20 pJ/flop.

The team assembled what Kogge referred to as an aggressive strawman with an architecture that was largely influenced by study contributor Bill Dally (then with Stanford University, now with Nvidia), who participated in the BoF. The architecture was characterized by multicore, no coherency, and shared global address space. Reaching the 1 exaflops peak meant 68 MW power usage from 583 racks. Relative to programming, about 1 billion threads needed to be maintained. A wire interconnect was assumed.

Kogge provided details from the report on the aggressive strawman system, which he said he considered to be “remarkably prescient” with respect to what ultimately materialized in the evolution toward exascale.

A 2015 paper for the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) by Kogge titled “Updating Energy Model for Future Exascale Systems” examined an update of the models that the Exascale Computing study team had built to project performance for only the heavyweight (Xeon chips) sockets. The paper received a Gauss Award.

The study group’s final analysis showed that an exaflops could be reached by 2020, but with a peak of 180 MW to 430 MW.

The Study Contributors’ Assessments of Hits and Misses

Bill Harrod

At the inception of the DARPA studies, the target year for reaching exascale was 2015, but based on the results of the software study it was adjusted to 2018. Today, projections are focused on the 2021–2023 time frame. Harrod said that although the projections have evolved, the studies paved the way for DARPA’s Ubiquitous High-Performance Computing (UHPC) Exascale Projects and laid the foundation for DOE’s ECI and ECP. They have, he added, greatly enhanced the environment for exascale development.

In terms of hits and misses, the importance of co-design has played out at DOE and many other places, including the FastForward and PathForward programs, Harrod said. As a key miss of the study, he highlighted the fact that it did not foresee the impact of artificial intelligence (AI).

Peter Kogge

The study group’s approach in focusing on the heavyweight systems was dead-on through 2015, and the aggressive strawman they developed greatly resembles today’s GPU, Kogge said. In addition, he said the study group was right to point out that some form of memory stacking would be necessary, and that interconnects, at least locally within racks, would still largely be copper. Among the misses, he highlighted the heterogeneous systems and the SIMT threading model, which constitutes what is done with GPUs today.

Keren Bergman (Columbia University)

Bergman said that as someone whose background is in optical networks, she considered the close examination of the energy consumption of the interconnects in this study to be enlightening. With respect to the study’s hits, she opined that the deep discussions captured the growing challenge of data movement. However, in her view, one of the study’s sizable misses was the cost associated with manufacturability. She said substantial innovations would be required to integrate photonics into chips and remedy one of the last real bottlenecks.

Dean Klein (Micron/now retired)

Klein, who was vice president of memory system development at Micron at the time of the study and today in retirement mentors and motivates engineering students, highlighted as a hit the study group’s awareness that the energy of memory subsystems would drive compromises in the memory in systems, and as a miss the idea of NAND flash playing a role in supercomputing.

Bill Dally

The prescience of the study’s aggressive silicon strawman made it a hit, Dally said. Conversely, he viewed as shortcomings the paucity of capable networks due to funding, failure to anticipate AI, and an overly conservative approach in addressing software.

Exascale Study Contributors’ Predictions for 2028

The belief that complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technology for constructing integrated circuits would remain predominant was a recurring notion, as the BoF contributors offered diverse predictions for 2028 based on the perspectives of their areas of expertise.

The contributors also responded to comments and questions from the audience.

Scott Gibson is a science writer and communications specialist with Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

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!

ORNL Helps Identify Challenges of Extremely Heterogeneous Architectures

March 21, 2019

Exponential growth in classical computing over the last two decades has produced hardware and software that support lightning-fast processing speeds, but advancements are topping out as computing architectures reach thei Read more…

By Laurie Varma

Interview with 2019 Person to Watch Jim Keller

March 21, 2019

On the heels of Intel's reaffirmation that it will deliver the first U.S. exascale computer in 2021, which will feature the company's new Intel Xe architecture, we bring you our interview with our 2019 Person to Watch Jim Keller, head of the Silicon Engineering Group at Intel. Read more…

By HPCwire Editorial Team

What’s New in HPC Research: TensorFlow, Buddy Compression, Intel Optane & More

March 20, 2019

In this bimonthly feature, HPCwire highlights newly published research in the high-performance computing community and related domains. From parallel programming to exascale to quantum computing, the details are here. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture: How to Power a Cloud

Learn how HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture provide critical infrastructure for leading Nordic HPC provider’s HPCFLOW cloud service.

powercloud_blog.jpgFor decades, HPE has been at the forefront of high-performance computing, and we’ve powered some of the fastest and most robust supercomputers in the world. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Insurance: Where’s the Risk?

Insurers are facing extreme competitive challenges in their core businesses. Property and Casualty (P&C) and Life and Health (L&H) firms alike are highly impacted by the ongoing globalization, increasing regulation, and digital transformation of their client bases. Read more…

At GTC: Nvidia Expands Scope of Its AI and Datacenter Ecosystem

March 19, 2019

In the high-stakes race to provide the AI life-cycle solution of choice, three of the biggest horses in the field are IBM, Intel and Nvidia. While the latter is only a fraction of the size of its two bigger rivals, and has been in business for only a fraction of the time, Nvidia continues to impress with an expanding array of new GPU-based hardware, software, robotics, partnerships and... Read more…

By Doug Black

At GTC: Nvidia Expands Scope of Its AI and Datacenter Ecosystem

March 19, 2019

In the high-stakes race to provide the AI life-cycle solution of choice, three of the biggest horses in the field are IBM, Intel and Nvidia. While the latter is only a fraction of the size of its two bigger rivals, and has been in business for only a fraction of the time, Nvidia continues to impress with an expanding array of new GPU-based hardware, software, robotics, partnerships and... Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia Debuts Clara AI Toolkit with Pre-Trained Models for Radiology Use

March 19, 2019

AI’s push into healthcare got a boost yesterday with Nvidia’s release of the Clara Deploy AI toolkit which includes 13 pre-trained models for use in radiolo Read more…

By John Russell

It’s Official: Aurora on Track to Be First US Exascale Computer in 2021

March 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy along with Intel and Cray confirmed today that an Intel/Cray supercomputer, "Aurora," capable of sustained performance of one exaf Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Why Nvidia Bought Mellanox: ‘Future Datacenters Will Be…Like High Performance Computers’

March 14, 2019

“Future datacenters of all kinds will be built like high performance computers,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during a phone briefing on Monday after Nvidia revealed scooping up the high performance networking company Mellanox for $6.9 billion. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Oil and Gas Supercloud Clears Out Remaining Knights Landing Inventory: All 38,000 Wafers

March 13, 2019

The McCloud HPC service being built by Australia’s DownUnder GeoSolutions (DUG) outside Houston is set to become the largest oil and gas cloud in the world th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quick Take: Trump’s 2020 Budget Spares DoE-funded HPC but Slams NSF and NIH

March 12, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget request, released yesterday, proposes deep cuts in many science programs but seems to spare HPC funding by the Depar Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Wins Mellanox Stakes for $6.9 Billion

March 11, 2019

The long-rumored acquisition of Mellanox came to fruition this morning with GPU chipmaker Nvidia’s announcement that it has purchased the high-performance net Read more…

By Doug Black

Optalysys Rolls Commercial Optical Processor

March 7, 2019

Optalysys, Ltd., a U.K. company seeking to advance it optical co-processor technology, moved a step closer this week with the unveiling of what it claims is th Read more…

By George Leopold

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

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

ClusterVision in Bankruptcy, Fate Uncertain

February 13, 2019

ClusterVision, European HPC specialists that have built and installed over 20 Top500-ranked systems in their nearly 17-year history, appear to be in the midst o Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Reportedly in $6B Bid for Mellanox

January 30, 2019

The latest rumors and reports around an acquisition of Mellanox focus on Intel, which has reportedly offered a $6 billion bid for the high performance interconn Read more…

By Doug Black

Why Nvidia Bought Mellanox: ‘Future Datacenters Will Be…Like High Performance Computers’

March 14, 2019

“Future datacenters of all kinds will be built like high performance computers,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during a phone briefing on Monday after Nvidia revealed scooping up the high performance networking company Mellanox for $6.9 billion. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Looking for Light Reading? NSF-backed ‘Comic Books’ Tackle Quantum Computing

January 28, 2019

Still baffled by quantum computing? How about turning to comic books (graphic novels for the well-read among you) for some clarity and a little humor on QC. The Read more…

By John Russell

Contract Signed for New Finnish Supercomputer

December 13, 2018

After the official contract signing yesterday, configuration details were made public for the new BullSequana system that the Finnish IT Center for Science (CSC Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Deep500: ETH Researchers Introduce New Deep Learning Benchmark for HPC

February 5, 2019

ETH researchers have developed a new deep learning benchmarking environment – Deep500 – they say is “the first distributed and reproducible benchmarking s Read more…

By John Russell

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

IBM Quantum Update: Q System One Launch, New Collaborators, and QC Center Plans

January 10, 2019

IBM made three significant quantum computing announcements at CES this week. One was introduction of IBM Q System One; it’s really the integration of IBM’s Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Bets $2B Seeking 1000X AI Hardware Performance Boost

February 7, 2019

For now, AI systems are mostly machine learning-based and “narrow” – powerful as they are by today's standards, they're limited to performing a few, narro Read more…

By Doug Black

The Deep500 – Researchers Tackle an HPC Benchmark for Deep Learning

January 7, 2019

How do you know if an HPC system, particularly a larger-scale system, is well-suited for deep learning workloads? Today, that’s not an easy question to answer Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Reflections and (Mostly Hopeful) Predictions

December 19, 2018

So much ‘spaghetti’ gets tossed on walls by the technology community (vendors and researchers) to see what sticks that it is often difficult to peer through Read more…

By John Russell

Arm Unveils Neoverse N1 Platform with up to 128-Cores

February 20, 2019

Following on its Neoverse roadmap announcement last October, Arm today revealed its next-gen Neoverse microarchitecture with compute and throughput-optimized si Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

It’s Official: Aurora on Track to Be First US Exascale Computer in 2021

March 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy along with Intel and Cray confirmed today that an Intel/Cray supercomputer, "Aurora," capable of sustained performance of one exaf Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

France to Deploy AI-Focused Supercomputer: Jean Zay

January 22, 2019

HPE announced today that it won the contract to build a supercomputer that will drive France’s AI and HPC efforts. The computer will be part of GENCI, the Fre Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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