Cray, AMD to Extend DOE’s Exascale Frontier

By Tiffany Trader

May 7, 2019

Cray and AMD are coming back to Oak Ridge National Laboratory to partner on the world’s largest and most expensive supercomputer. The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has selected American HPC company Cray–and its technology partner AMD–to provide the lab with its first exascale supercomputer for 2021 deployment.

The $600 million award marks the first system announcement to come out of the second CORAL (Collaboration of Oak Ridge, Argonne and Livermore) procurement process (CORAL-2). Poised to deliver “greater than 1.5 exaflops of HPC and AI processing performance,” Frontier (ORNL-5) will be based on Cray’s new Shasta architecture and Slingshot interconnect and will feature future-generation AMD Epyc CPUs and Radeon Instinct GPUs.

In a media briefing ahead of today’s announcement at Oak Ridge, the partners revealed that Frontier will span more than 100 Shasta supercomputer cabinets, each supporting 300 kilowatts of computing. Single-socket nodes will consist of one CPU and four GPUs, connected by AMD’s custom high bandwidth, low latency coherent Infinity fabric.

Oak Ridge Director Thomas Zacharia indicated that 40 MW of power, the maximum power draw set out in the CORAL-2 RFP, would be available for Frontier.

“Cray’s Slingshot system interconnect ties together this massive supercomputer and a new system software stack fuses the best of high performance computing and cloud capabilities,” said Cray CEO Pete Ungaro. “We worked together with AMD to design a new high density heterogeneous computing blade for Shasta and new programming environment for this new CPU-GPU node.”

Frontier will use a custom AMD Epyc processor based on a future generation of AMD’s Zen cores (beyond Rome and Milan). “[The future-gen Epycs] will have additional instructions in the microarchitecture as well as in the architecture itself for both optimization of AI as well as supercomputing workloads,” said AMD CEO Lisa Su, adding that the new Radeon Instinct GPU incorporates “extensive optimization for the AI and the computing performance, [with] mixed-precision operations for optimum deep learning performance, and high bandwidth memory for the best latency.”

The CPU and GPUs will be linked by AMD’s new coherent Infinity fabric and each GPU will be able to talk directly to the Slingshot network, enabling each node “to get the optimum performance for both supercomputing as well as AI,” said Su. All these components were designed for Frontier but will be available to enterprise applications after the system debuts, according to AMD.

Frontier marks a return for Cray and AMD to Oak Ridge, home to another Cray-AMD system, Titan. Benchmarked at 17.6 Linpack petaflops, Titan was the number one system in the world when it debuted (as an upgrade to Jaguar) in 2012. With Titan set to be decommissioned on August 1, 2019, and Frontier scheduled to be deployed in the back half of 2021 and accepted in 2022, Oak Ridge won’t be without a Cray-AMD machine for too long. While Titan used AMD (Opteron) CPUs and Nvidia (K20X) GPUS, Frontier will rely on AMD for all its in-node processing elements.

Frontier is Oak Ridge’s third machine to use a heterogeneous design. In addition to the aforementioned Titan, Oak Ridge is of course home to Summit, which became the world’s fastest supercomputer in June 2018. Its 143.5 GPU-accelerated Linpack petaflops are owed to 9,216 Power9 22-core CPUs and 27,648 Nvidia Tesla V100 GPUs.

“Since Titan, Oak Ridge has pioneered this idea of having GPU accelerators along with CPUs,” said Zacharia. “Frontier will be the third generation of supercomputing system built around this architecture and it will be the second generation AI machine.”

Frontier will be used for future application simulations for quantum computers, nuclear energy systems, fusion reactors, and precision medicines, said Zacharia, adding “Frontier finally gets us to the point where we can actually design new materials.”

“We are approaching a revolution in how we can design and analyze materials,” said Tom Evans, Oak Ridge National Laboratory technical lead for the Energy Applications Focus Area, Exascale Computing Project. “We can look and carefully characterize the electronic structure of fairly simple atoms and very simple molecules right now. But with exascale computing on Frontier, we’re trying to stretch that to molecules that consist of thousands of atoms. The more we understand about the electronic structure, the more we’re able to actually manufacture and use exotic materials for things like very small, high tensile strength materials and buildings to make them more energy efficient. At the end of the day, everything in some sense comes down to materials.”
AMD’s Forrest Norrod and Cray’s Pete Ungaro on stage at AMD’s Next Horizon event in November 2018.

In terms of number-one system bragging rights, the DOE has previously stated, and recently confirmed, that Aurora (aka Aurora21, the revised CORAL-1 system that Intel is contracted to deliver to Argonne) is on track to be the United States’, and possibly the world’s, first exascale system in 2021; and since that messaging has not changed, we believe it is the intention of the DOE to deliver on that goal. However, even if it is the case that Intel keeps to its timeline and Aurora is deployed and benchmarked first, Frontier is slated to be stood up on a very similar timeline and according to publicly stated performance goals will provide roughly 50 percent more flops capability.

Asked to comment on the “competitive” timelines for Frontier and Aurora, Zacharia said he could only comment on Frontier.

“I don’t know all the details of Aurora procurement because that information has not been publicly released, but we do know that Frontier will be the largest system by far that the DOE has procured,” he said.

“We know that Oak Ridge has experience with Summit and Titan previously in using CPU-GPU systems. We also know that the pre-exascale system that the scientific community is using today to develop all their applications and system software is on our system Summit, which is the largest machine available to anybody…. If there is any competition between the labs, it’s just competition for ideas, which is what scientists should do, but otherwise this is truly a DOE lab system effort to ensure the United States maintains the forefront of this important technology, not only because it drives technology innovation in the IT computing space but it also drives economic competition and creates jobs.”

Zacharia further cited that the goals for Frontier are aligned and consistent with the White House AI initiative as well as the National Council on American Workers, which is creating new jobs using AI and scientific computing in manufacturing and other spaces.

As for that $600-million-plus price tag, it is “by far the most expensive single machine that [the DOE has] ever procured,” said Zacharia. It’s also Cray’s largest contract ever.

The total amount includes the system build contract for “over $500 million,” as well as the development contract for “over $100 million” that will, according to Ungaro, be used to develop some of the core technologies for the machine, as well as a new programming environment that will enhance GPU programmability via extensions for Radeon Open Compute Platform (ROCm).

“The Cray Programming Environment (Cray PE)…will see a number of enhancements for increased functionality and scale,” said Cray. “This will start with Cray working with AMD to enhance these tools for optimized GPU scaling with extensions for Radeon Open Compute Platform (ROCm). These software enhancements will leverage low-level integrations of AMD ROCmRDMA technology with Cray Slingshot to enable direct communication between the Slingshot NIC to read and write data directly to GPU memory for higher application performance.”

To support the converged use of analytics, AI, and HPC at extreme scale, “Cray PE will be integrated with a full machine learning software stack with support for the most popular tools and frameworks.”

Shasta cabinet detail

Frontier marks Cray’s third major contract award for the Shasta architecture and Slingshot interconnect. Previous awards were for the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center’s NERSC-9 pre-exascale Perlmutter system (with partners AMD and Nvidia) and the Argonne National Laboratory’s Aurora exascale system (with Intel as the prime).

Frontier is the first CORAL-2 award, announced nearly 13 months after the RFP was released. As laid out in the program’s RFP, CORAL-2 seeks to fund up to three exascale-class systems: Frontier at Oak Ridge, El Capitan at Livermore and a potential third system at Argonne if the lab chooses to make an award under the RFP and if funding is available. Like the original CORAL program, which kicked off in 2012, CORAL-2 has a mandate to field architecturally diverse machines in a way that manages risk during a period of rapid technological evolution. The stipulation indicates that “the systems residing at or planned to reside at ORNL and ANL must be diverse from one another,” however the program allows Oak Ridge and Livermore labs to employ the same architecture if they choose to do so, as in the case of Summit and Sierra, which employ very similar IBM-Nvidia architectures.

The CORAL-2 effort is part of the U.S. Exascale Computing Initiative. The ECI has two components: one is the hardware delivery and the other is application readiness. The latter is the domain of the Exascale Computing Project (see HPCwire‘s recent coverage to read about the latest progress), which is investing $1.7 billion to ensure there’s an exascale-ready software ecosystem to get the most from exascale hardware when it arrives.

“ECP Software Technology is excited to be a part of preparing the software stack for Frontier,” said Sandia’s Mike Heroux, director of software technology for the Exascale Computing Project. “We are already on our way, using Summit and Sierra as launching pads. Working with [Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility], Cray, and AMD, we look forward to providing the programming environments and tools, and math, data and visualization libraries that will unlock the potential of Frontier for producing the countless scientific achievements we expect from such a powerful system. We are privileged to be part of the effort.”

ORNL’s Center for Accelerated Application Readiness is accepting proposals from scientists to prepare their codes to run on Frontier. Check with the Frontier website for additional information.

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!

Supercomputers Generate Universes to Illuminate Galactic Formation

August 20, 2019

With advanced imaging and satellite technologies, it’s easier than ever to see a galaxy – but understanding how they form (a process that can take billions of years) is a different story. Now, a team of researchers f Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Singularity Moves Up the Container Value Chain

August 20, 2019

The enterprise version of the Singularity HPC container platform released this week by Sylabs is designed to allow users to create, secure and share the high-end containers in self-hosted production deployments. The e Read more…

By George Leopold

IBM Deepens Plunge into Open Source; OpenPOWER to Join Linux Foundation

August 20, 2019

IBM today announced it was contributing the instruction set (ISA) for its Power microprocessor and the designs for the Open Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (OpenCAPI) and Open Memory Interface (OMI) to the Linux Read more…

By John Russell

AWS Solution Channel

Efficiency and Cost-Optimization for HPC Workloads – AWS Batch and Amazon EC2 Spot Instances

High Performance Computing on AWS leverages the power of cloud computing and the extreme scale it offers to achieve optimal HPC price/performance. With AWS you can right size your services to meet exactly the capacity requirements you need without having to overprovision or compromise capacity. Read more…

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Bring the combined power of HPC and AI to your business transformation

FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) acceleration cards are not new, as they’ve been commercially available since 1984. Typically, the emphasis around FPGAs has centered on the fact that they’re programmable accelerators, and that they can truly offer workload specific hardware acceleration solutions without requiring custom silicon. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Keys to Attracting the Newest HPC Talent – Post-Millennials

[Connect with HPC users and learn new skills in the IBM Spectrum LSF User Community.]

For engineers and scientists growing up in the 80s, the current state of HPC makes perfect sense. Read more…

Stampede2 ‘Shocks’ with New Shock Turbulence Insights

August 19, 2019

Shockwaves play roles in everything from high-speed aircraft to supernovae – and now, supercomputer-powered research from the Texas A&M University and the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) is helping to shed l Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

IBM Deepens Plunge into Open Source; OpenPOWER to Join Linux Foundation

August 20, 2019

IBM today announced it was contributing the instruction set (ISA) for its Power microprocessor and the designs for the Open Coherent Accelerator Processor Inter Read more…

By John Russell

Ayar Labs to Demo Photonics Chiplet in FPGA Package at Hot Chips

August 19, 2019

Silicon startup Ayar Labs continues to gain momentum with its DARPA-backed optical chiplet technology that puts advanced electronics and optics on the same chip Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Scientists to Tap Exascale Computing to Unlock the Mystery of our Accelerating Universe

August 14, 2019

The universe and everything in it roared to life with the Big Bang approximately 13.8 billion years ago. It has continued expanding ever since. While we have a Read more…

By Rob Johnson

AI is the Next Exascale – Rick Stevens on What that Means and Why It’s Important

August 13, 2019

Twelve years ago the Department of Energy (DOE) was just beginning to explore what an exascale computing program might look like and what it might accomplish. Today, DOE is repeating that process for AI, once again starting with science community town halls to gather input and stimulate conversation. The town hall program... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader and John Russell

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Lenovo Drives Single-Socket Servers with AMD Epyc Rome CPUs

August 7, 2019

No summer doldrums here. As part of the AMD Epyc Rome launch event in San Francisco today, Lenovo announced two new single-socket servers, the ThinkSystem SR635 Read more…

By Doug Black

Building Diversity and Broader Engagement in the HPC Community

August 7, 2019

Increasing diversity and inclusion in HPC is a community-building effort. Representation of both issues and individuals matters - the more people see HPC in a w Read more…

By AJ Lauer

High Performance (Potato) Chips

May 5, 2006

In this article, we focus on how Procter & Gamble is using high performance computing to create some common, everyday supermarket products. Tom Lange, a 27-year veteran of the company, tells us how P&G models products, processes and production systems for the betterment of consumer package goods. Read more…

By Michael Feldman

Supercomputer-Powered AI Tackles a Key Fusion Energy Challenge

August 7, 2019

Fusion energy is the Holy Grail of the energy world: low-radioactivity, low-waste, zero-carbon, high-output nuclear power that can run on hydrogen or lithium. T Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Cray, AMD to Extend DOE’s Exascale Frontier

May 7, 2019

Cray and AMD are coming back to Oak Ridge National Laboratory to partner on the world’s largest and most expensive supercomputer. The Department of Energy’s Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Graphene Surprises Again, This Time for Quantum Computing

May 8, 2019

Graphene is fascinating stuff with promise for use in a seeming endless number of applications. This month researchers from the University of Vienna and Institu Read more…

By John Russell

AMD Verifies Its Largest 7nm Chip Design in Ten Hours

June 5, 2019

AMD announced last week that its engineers had successfully executed the first physical verification of its largest 7nm chip design – in just ten hours. The AMD Radeon Instinct Vega20 – which boasts 13.2 billion transistors – was tested using a TSMC-certified Calibre nmDRC software platform from Mentor. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

TSMC and Samsung Moving to 5nm; Whither Moore’s Law?

June 12, 2019

With reports that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TMSC) and Samsung are moving quickly to 5nm manufacturing, it’s a good time to again ponder whither goes the venerable Moore’s law. Shrinking feature size has of course been the primary hallmark of achieving Moore’s law... Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Deep Learning Competitors Stalk Nvidia

May 14, 2019

There is no shortage of processing architectures emerging to accelerate deep learning workloads, with two more options emerging this week to challenge GPU leader Nvidia. First, Intel researchers claimed a new deep learning record for image classification on the ResNet-50 convolutional neural network. Separately, Israeli AI chip startup Hailo.ai... Read more…

By George Leopold

Leading Solution Providers

ISC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
GOOGLE
GOOGLE
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL

Nvidia Embraces Arm, Declares Intent to Accelerate All CPU Architectures

June 17, 2019

As the Top500 list was being announced at ISC in Frankfurt today with an upgraded petascale Arm supercomputer in the top third of the list, Nvidia announced its Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Top500 Purely Petaflops; US Maintains Performance Lead

June 17, 2019

With the kick-off of the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Frankfurt this morning, the 53rd Top500 list made its debut, and this one's for petafl Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Hardware That Powered the Black Hole Image

June 24, 2019

Two months ago, the first-ever image of a black hole took the internet by storm. A team of scientists took years to produce and verify the striking image – an Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Cray – and the Cray Brand – to Be Positioned at Tip of HPE’s HPC Spear

May 22, 2019

More so than with most acquisitions of this kind, HPE’s purchase of Cray for $1.3 billion, announced last week, seems to have elements of that overused, often Read more…

By Doug Black and Tiffany Trader

Chinese Company Sugon Placed on US ‘Entity List’ After Strong Showing at International Supercomputing Conference

June 26, 2019

After more than a decade of advancing its supercomputing prowess, operating the world’s most powerful supercomputer from June 2013 to June 2018, China is keep Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

In Wake of Nvidia-Mellanox: Xilinx to Acquire Solarflare

April 25, 2019

With echoes of Nvidia’s recent acquisition of Mellanox, FPGA maker Xilinx has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Solarflare Communications, provider Read more…

By Doug Black

Qualcomm Invests in RISC-V Startup SiFive

June 7, 2019

Investors are zeroing in on the open standard RISC-V instruction set architecture and the processor intellectual property being developed by a batch of high-flying chip startups. Last fall, Esperanto Technologies announced a $58 million funding round. Read more…

By George Leopold

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