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!

UT Dallas Grows HPC Storage Footprint for Animation and Game Development

October 28, 2020

Computer-generated animation and video game development are extraordinarily computationally intensive fields, with studios often requiring large server farms with hundreds of terabytes – or even petabytes – of storag Read more…

By Staff report

Frame by Frame, Supercomputing Reveals the Forms of the Coronavirus

October 27, 2020

From the start of the pandemic, supercomputing research has been targeting one particular protein of the coronavirus: the notorious “S” or “spike” protein, which allows the virus to pry its way into human cells a Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AMD Reports Record Revenue and $35B Deal to Buy Xilinx

October 27, 2020

AMD this morning reported record quarterly revenue of $2.8 billion and a finalized deal to buy FPGA-maker Xilinx for $35 billion in an all-stock transaction. The acquisition helps AMD keep pace during a time of consolida Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia-Arm Deal a Boon for RISC-V?

October 26, 2020

The $40 billion blockbuster acquisition deal that will bring chip maker Arm into the Nvidia corporate family could provide a boost for the competing RISC-V architecture. As regulators in the U.S., China and the Europe Read more…

By George Leopold

OpenHPC Progress Report – v2.0, More Recipes, Cloud and Arm Support, Says Schulz

October 26, 2020

Launched in late 2015 and transitioned to a Linux Foundation Project in 2016, OpenHPC has marched quietly but steadily forward. Its goal “to provide a reference collection of open-source HPC software components and bes Read more…

By John Russell

AWS Solution Channel

Rapid Chip Design in the Cloud

Time-to-market and engineering efficiency are the most critical and expensive metrics for a chip design company. With this in mind, the team at Annapurna Labs selected Altair AcceleratorRead more…

Intel® HPC + AI Pavilion

Berlin Institute of Health: Putting HPC to Work for the World

Researchers from the Center for Digital Health at the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) are using science to understand the pathophysiology of COVID-19, which can help to inform the development of targeted treatments. Read more…

NASA Uses Supercomputing to Measure Carbon in the World’s Trees

October 22, 2020

Trees constitute one of the world’s most important carbon sinks, pulling enormous amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing the carbon in their trunks and the surrounding soil. Measuring this carbon sto Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AMD Reports Record Revenue and $35B Deal to Buy Xilinx

October 27, 2020

AMD this morning reported record quarterly revenue of $2.8 billion and a finalized deal to buy FPGA-maker Xilinx for $35 billion in an all-stock transaction. Th Read more…

By John Russell

OpenHPC Progress Report – v2.0, More Recipes, Cloud and Arm Support, Says Schulz

October 26, 2020

Launched in late 2015 and transitioned to a Linux Foundation Project in 2016, OpenHPC has marched quietly but steadily forward. Its goal “to provide a referen Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Dominates (Again) Latest MLPerf Inference Results

October 22, 2020

The two-year-old AI benchmarking group MLPerf.org released its second set of inferencing results yesterday and again, as in the most recent MLPerf training resu Read more…

By John Russell

HPE, AMD and EuroHPC Partner for Pre-Exascale LUMI Supercomputer

October 21, 2020

Not even a week after Nvidia announced that it would be providing hardware for the first four of the eight planned EuroHPC systems, HPE and AMD are announcing a Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPE to Build Australia’s Most Powerful Supercomputer for Pawsey

October 20, 2020

The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Perth, Western Australia, has had a busy year. Pawsey typically spends much of its time looking to the stars, working with a Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DDN-Tintri Showcases Technology Integration with Two New Products

October 20, 2020

DDN, a long-time leader in HPC storage, announced two new products today and provided more detail around its strategy for integrating DDN HPC technologies with Read more…

By John Russell

Is the Nvidia A100 GPU Performance Worth a Hardware Upgrade?

October 16, 2020

Over the last decade, accelerators have seen an increasing rate of adoption in high-performance computing (HPC) platforms, and in the June 2020 Top500 list, eig Read more…

By Hartwig Anzt, Ahmad Abdelfattah and Jack Dongarra

Nvidia and EuroHPC Team for Four Supercomputers, Including Massive ‘Leonardo’ System

October 15, 2020

The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU) serves as Europe’s concerted supercomputing play, currently comprising 32 member states and billions of euros in funding. I Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer-Powered Research Uncovers Signs of ‘Bradykinin Storm’ That May Explain COVID-19 Symptoms

July 28, 2020

Doctors and medical researchers have struggled to pinpoint – let alone explain – the deluge of symptoms induced by COVID-19 infections in patients, and what Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Nvidia Said to Be Close on Arm Deal

August 3, 2020

GPU leader Nvidia Corp. is in talks to buy U.K. chip designer Arm from parent company Softbank, according to several reports over the weekend. If consummated Read more…

By George Leopold

Intel’s 7nm Slip Raises Questions About Ponte Vecchio GPU, Aurora Supercomputer

July 30, 2020

During its second-quarter earnings call, Intel announced a one-year delay of its 7nm process technology, which it says it will create an approximate six-month shift for its CPU product timing relative to prior expectations. The primary issue is a defect mode in the 7nm process that resulted in yield degradation... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Hires Longtime Intel Exec Bill Magro to Lead HPC Strategy

September 18, 2020

In a sign of the times, another prominent HPCer has made a move to a hyperscaler. Longtime Intel executive Bill Magro joined Google as chief technologist for hi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Keeps Cray Brand Promise, Reveals HPE Cray Supercomputing Line

August 4, 2020

The HPC community, ever-affectionate toward Cray and its eponymous founder, can breathe a (virtual) sigh of relief. The Cray brand will live on, encompassing th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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…

By Doug Black

Aurora’s Troubles Move Frontier into Pole Exascale Position

October 1, 2020

Intel’s 7nm node delay has raised questions about the status of the Aurora supercomputer that was scheduled to be stood up at Argonne National Laboratory next year. Aurora was in the running to be the United States’ first exascale supercomputer although it was on a contemporaneous timeline with... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Is the Nvidia A100 GPU Performance Worth a Hardware Upgrade?

October 16, 2020

Over the last decade, accelerators have seen an increasing rate of adoption in high-performance computing (HPC) platforms, and in the June 2020 Top500 list, eig Read more…

By Hartwig Anzt, Ahmad Abdelfattah and Jack Dongarra

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

European Commission Declares €8 Billion Investment in Supercomputing

September 18, 2020

Just under two years ago, the European Commission formalized the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU): a concerted HPC effort (comprising 32 participating states at c Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Nvidia and EuroHPC Team for Four Supercomputers, Including Massive ‘Leonardo’ System

October 15, 2020

The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU) serves as Europe’s concerted supercomputing play, currently comprising 32 member states and billions of euros in funding. I Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Google Cloud Debuts 16-GPU Ampere A100 Instances

July 7, 2020

On the heels of the Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU launch in May, Google Cloud is announcing alpha availability of the A100 “Accelerator Optimized” VM A2 instance family on Google Compute Engine. The instances are powered by the HGX A100 16-GPU platform, which combines two HGX A100 8-GPU baseboards using... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Microsoft Azure Adds A100 GPU Instances for ‘Supercomputer-Class AI’ in the Cloud

August 19, 2020

Microsoft Azure continues to infuse its cloud platform with HPC- and AI-directed technologies. Today the cloud services purveyor announced a new virtual machine Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Powers Fugaku’s Storage, Scores IO500 Win

August 28, 2020

In June, RIKEN shook the supercomputing world with its Arm-based, Fujitsu-built juggernaut: Fugaku. The system, which weighs in at 415.5 Linpack petaflops, topp Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPE, AMD and EuroHPC Partner for Pre-Exascale LUMI Supercomputer

October 21, 2020

Not even a week after Nvidia announced that it would be providing hardware for the first four of the eight planned EuroHPC systems, HPE and AMD are announcing a Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DOD Orders Two AI-Focused Supercomputers from Liqid

August 24, 2020

The U.S. Department of Defense is making a big investment in data analytics and AI computing with the procurement of two HPC systems that will provide the High Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Oracle Cloud Deepens HPC Embrace with Launch of A100 Instances, Plans for Arm, More 

September 22, 2020

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) continued its steady ramp-up of HPC capabilities today with a flurry of announcements. Topping the list is general availabilit Read more…

By John Russell

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