Fastest Academic Supercomputer Enters Full Production at TACC, Just in Time for Hurricane Season

By Tiffany Trader

September 3, 2019

Frontera, the NSF supercomputer installed at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) in June, passed its formal acceptance last week and is now officially launched. The Dell EMC-built supercomputer spans 8,008 Mellanox HDR connected Xeon Platinum 8280 nodes, capable of 23.5 Linpack petaflops, making it the fastest academic supercomputer in the world. Frontera joins more than a dozen other TACC systems, including Stampede2, which is now the second fastest academic system in the U.S.

Ahead of today’s unveiling ceremony, which brought representatives from Intel, IBM, Nvidia, Mellanox, DDN and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to the University of Texas at Austin, HPCwire spoke with TACC Director Dan Stanzione about the science that’s already being enabled on Frontera, as well as other details of the $60-million NSF leadership computing award (announced last year), including two GPU-powered subsystems that are currently undergoing testing in preparation for production-readiness within the next couple of months.

TACC’s Frontera system, featuring 8,008 Dell EMC PowerEdge server nodes

The primary Frontera system is powered by Intel’s highest-bin SP Cascade Lake processors (the Xeon Platinum 8280s), interconnected with HDR-100 links to each node, and full 200 Gbps HDR links between leaf and core switches. Data Direct Networks contributed the main storage system (50+ PB disk, 3PB of flash, 1.5/TB sec of I/O capability). Frontera’s 90 racks leverage direct liquid cooling technology from CoolIT, enabling about twice as many racks in the same footprint as the recently retired Stampede1. Running Linpack (the system entered the June 2019 Top500 list at number five), Frontera’s Xeons never got above 50C so won’t be thermally constrained; unlike Stampede2, which hit temps of up to 85C on its Linpack run, Stanzione shared.

In August, TACC fielded two Frontera subsystems. One is a cluster comprised of 360 Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 GPUs submerged in liquid coolant filled racks developed by GRC. The liquid cooling specialists–formerly known as Green Revolution Cooling–are also based in Austin and TACC deployed the first GRC prototype outside of the company’s lab back in 2009. The new six tank system (internally, it’s called Maverick) uses Mellanox HDR-100 networking and provides 4 petaflops of peak single-precision performance.

Stanzione revealed that the Quadro RTX nodes were brought in under a new single-precision academic program that Nvidia is launching that provides CUDA licensing support and maybe even some nice discounts for RTX family parts for academic sites (we are tracking down additional details and will report further soon).

TACC’s new Longhorn: an IBM Power9 cluster with 448 Nvidia V100 GPUs

TACC is also deploying an IBM Power9 subsystem with 448 V100 GPUs (in the 4:1 GPU-to-CPU configuration) offering a peak aggregate output of 3.5 double-precision petaflops. The InfiniBand-EDR connected cluster reprises the Longhorn name at TACC (the original Longhorn, a GPU cluster outfitted with Quadro FX 5800 parts, was decommissioned in 2014). Frontera’s two GPU subsystems will target artificial intelligence, machine learning, and molecular dynamics research.

In the coming months, Frontera will also be integrating with cloud providers Amazon, Google, and Microsoft to provide researchers access to a range of emerging computing technologies and long-term storage. “Cloud is not an either/or decision, they don’t really do the same thing,” Stanzione said at the Rice Oil and Gas conference in March, referring to traditional on-prem HPC and cloud. “We are bringing in the cloud to use the things the cloud does well on, publishing data, and access to composable workflows, things like natural language processing. And also to play with the latest gear, FPGAs, Tensor Processors, etc., and see what the users want.”

Since entering early science operations the first week of July, Frontera has supported 39 science projects from across the NSF space and Stanzione expects that number to expand to about 100. As NSF’s leadership-class “tier 1” system, the follow-on to Blue Waters at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Frontera’s mission is to provide open science projects with significant system time; some projects are at the scale where they require 5 percent of the machine’s time in a year, for example. Smaller projects will be kept on Stampede2.

Frontera will run for at least five years; 80 percent of cycles are selected through a competitive process, while 20 percent are discretionary. Frontera will support high-impact science in nearly every domain. Early workloads include astrophysics, quantum chemistry, photovoltaic materials research, machine learning – and just this past week hurricane modeling.

TACC has been working with the storm research community for about a decade and has discretionary allocation time for just this kind of emergency, seasonal workload. “They call us when there’s a storm, and usually, we’re able to let them on,” said Stanzione. “Obviously, these forecasts are much less useful two or three days from now. So we just give them a chunk of time, wherever, wherever we have the space.”

As Hurricane Dorian was still gaining strength over the Atlantic last week, TACC provided a discretionary allocation for researchers Clint Dawson (University of Texas at Austin) and Jason Fleming (University of North Carolina), to carry out storm surge forecasting on the hurricane that reached category-5 status on Sunday using both Stampede2 and Frontera.

The researchers were able to get their code up in running on Frontera in about 10 minutes due to how similar Frontera is to Stampede2 with respect to its software stack and architecture — and they achieved twice the speed on the same number of nodes, Stanzione told us. Some of this speedup is attributable to the fact that they had a fairly quiet system to run on, so less contention for I/O and other resources. More generally, Stanzione is seeing a 10-15 percent performance uplift moving from Skylake to Cascade Lake, with up to a 30 percent improvement on codes that aren’t memory bandwidth bound.

The Intel security mitigations (that address side channel attack vulnerabilities, Spectre and Meltdown, et al.), haven’t impacted TACC very significantly, according to Stanzione. With the Skylake-based Stampede2 nodes, at most they saw up to a 10 percent hit on data intensive workloads with a lot of small I/O, but for the majority of floating point bound simulation codes, the performance penalty was around 1-2 percent. With the new hardware mitigations on Cascade Lake, TACC is not able to conduct direct with-and-without comparisons, but given codes are hitting the projected performance targets, Stanzione believes that if there is an impact, it’s minor.

TACC will also be deploying a small fleet of Optane nodes as part of the Frontera project: 16 quad-socket nodes filled with the 256 GB Optane Persistent Memory Modules — that’s six per socket, 24 per node, for an aggregate of more than 98 TB of Optane memory.

TACC’s engineers will be experimenting with the Optane DIMMs in both “I/O mode” and memory mode, using it for in-memory database applications, and to boost fault tolerance for check pointing. “We haven’t decided if we like it better as a fast storage node or a sort of a slow but really large memory node because it’s sort of a hybrid between storage and memory in a lot of ways. So we’ll have a hundred terabytes, 16 of these broad-socket nodes, and we’ll see what users want to do with it,” said Stanzione.

A phase-2 NSF leadership system that is 10x the capacity of Frontera is on the roadmap for 2024 deployment, which will be after the DOE Frontier (ORNL) and El Capitan (LLNL) machines are up and running. “Five year planning is more in the style that DOE usually gets to do,” Stanzione has said. This longer lead time allows TACC and its NSF collaborators to gather data and thoughtfully plan what makes sense for the second half of the 2020s. They’ll have a BOF at SC this year to start getting feedback and will begin working on a conceptual design next year, drawing on the lessons learned from Frontera and its subsystems, and as always listening closely to their end user scientific community, whom Stanzione continuously references throughout our nearly hour-long conversation.

This community-needs focus came up again when we talked about the decision to go with a straight x86 machine (plus smaller GPU subsystems), even though in the U.S. at least extreme-scale architectures have been trending toward fat GPU-node systems. (See five DOE CORAL awards, Perlmutter at NERSC, Big Red 2 at Indiana University, to name a few. There are of course notable exceptions to the fat-node approach, especially internationally, e.g., SuperMUC-NG at LRZ and the upcoming post-K Arm “Fugaku” system at RIKEN. For the record, Stanzione is intrigued by Arm and the Fujitsu post-K chip, specifically.)

“It helps that in the DOE space, most of the codes are C++. They can compel the developers to go the direction they want to go, and they use templating libraries like Cocos and Raja to get performance out of those,” said Stanzione. “But, you know, if I told our community to do that, first of all, right now, none of the codes would work. And, you know, I don’t have two years to get to it, either. Most of those systems [that you mentioned] are around the 2021 timeframe. Assuming they can make the software switch — and they have lots of good reasons to think that they can — their community is just very different.”

In a bit of friendly posturing, Stanzione also said he expects that despite those [big GPU] systems having higher spec’d performance (peak and Linpack) and higher funding levels, there will be a set of codes for which Frontera will outrun systems like Summit and Sierra. “We’ll put our productivity per dollar up against any of them,” said Stanzione, “and I think there’ll be a set of problems, particularly some of the big adaptive mesh, partial differential equations type models, where I bet we can outrun them in just raw speed because those codes just aren’t really friendly to those fat nodes. If you take away the GPUs, then Summit’s essentially a 3,000 node machine of plain-old CPUs and we have a lot more (nodes) than that. So, I think we will find some problems over the next two or three months, where Frontera is the fastest machine in the world.”

Read more about the science Frontera will be enabling at: https://fronteraweb.tacc.utexas.edu/

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!

Graphcore Introduces Next-Gen Intelligence Processing Unit for AI Workloads

July 15, 2020

British hardware designer Graphcore, which emerged from stealth in 2016 to launch its first-generation Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU), has announced its next-generation IPU platform: the IPU-Machine M2000. With the n Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

heFFTe: Scaling FFT for Exascale

July 15, 2020

Exascale computing aspires to provide breakthrough solutions addressing today’s most critical challenges in scientific discovery, energy assurance, economic competitiveness, and national security. This has been the mai Read more…

By Jack Dongarra and Stanimire Tomov

There’s No Storage Like ATGC: Breakthrough Helps to Store ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in DNA

July 15, 2020

Even as storage density reaches new heights, many researchers have their eyes set on a paradigm shift in high-density information storage: storing data in the four nucleotides (A, T, G and C) that constitute DNA, a metho Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Get a Grip: Intel Neuromorphic Chip Used to Give Robotics Arm a Sense of Touch

July 15, 2020

Moving neuromorphic technology from the laboratory into practice has proven slow-going. This week, National University of Singapore researchers moved the needle forward demonstrating an event-driven, visual-tactile perce Read more…

By John Russell

What’s New in HPC Research: Volcanoes, Mobile Games, Proteins & More

July 14, 2020

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

AWS Solution Channel

INEOS TEAM UK Accelerates Boat Design for America’s Cup Using HPC on AWS

The America’s Cup Dream

The 36th America’s Cup race will be decided in Auckland, New Zealand in 2021. Like all the teams, INEOS TEAM UK will compete in a boat whose design will have followed guidelines set by race organizers to ensure the crew’s sailing skills are fully tested. Read more…

Intel® HPC + AI Pavilion

Supercomputing the Pandemic: Scientific Community Tackles COVID-19 from Multiple Perspectives

Since their inception, supercomputers have taken on the biggest, most complex, and most data-intensive computing challenges—from confirming Einstein’s theories about gravitational waves to predicting the impacts of climate change. Read more…

Joliot-Curie Supercomputer Used to Build First Full, High-Fidelity Aircraft Engine Simulation

July 14, 2020

When industrial designers plan the design of a new element of a vehicle’s propulsion or exterior, they typically use fluid dynamics to optimize airflow and increase the vehicle’s speed and efficiency. These fluid dyn Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Graphcore Introduces Next-Gen Intelligence Processing Unit for AI Workloads

July 15, 2020

British hardware designer Graphcore, which emerged from stealth in 2016 to launch its first-generation Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU), has announced its nex Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

heFFTe: Scaling FFT for Exascale

July 15, 2020

Exascale computing aspires to provide breakthrough solutions addressing today’s most critical challenges in scientific discovery, energy assurance, economic c Read more…

By Jack Dongarra and Stanimire Tomov

Get a Grip: Intel Neuromorphic Chip Used to Give Robotics Arm a Sense of Touch

July 15, 2020

Moving neuromorphic technology from the laboratory into practice has proven slow-going. This week, National University of Singapore researchers moved the needle Read more…

By John Russell

Max Planck Society Begins Installation of Liquid-Cooled Supercomputer from Lenovo

July 9, 2020

Lenovo announced today that it is supplying a new high performance computer to the Max Planck Society, one of Germany's premier research organizations. Comprise Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

President’s Council Targets AI, Quantum, STEM; Recommends Spending Growth

July 9, 2020

Last week the President Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) met (webinar) to review policy recommendations around three sub-committee reports: Read more…

By John Russell

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

Q&A: HLRS’s Bastian Koller Tackles HPC and Industry in Germany and Europe

July 6, 2020

In this exclusive interview for HPCwire – sadly not face to face – Steve Conway, senior advisor for Hyperion Research, talks with Dr.-Ing Bastian Koller about the state of HPC and its collaboration with Industry in Europe. Koller is a familiar figure in HPC. He is the managing director at High Performance Computing Center Stuttgart (HLRS) and also serves... Read more…

By Steve Conway, Hyperion

OpenPOWER Reboot – New Director, New Silicon Partners, Leveraging Linux Foundation Connections

July 2, 2020

Earlier this week the OpenPOWER Foundation announced the contribution of IBM’s A21 Power processor core design to the open source community. Roughly this time Read more…

By John Russell

Supercomputer Modeling Tests How COVID-19 Spreads in Grocery Stores

April 8, 2020

In the COVID-19 era, many people are treating simple activities like getting gas or groceries with caution as they try to heed social distancing mandates and protect their own health. Still, significant uncertainty surrounds the relative risk of different activities, and conflicting information is prevalent. A team of Finnish researchers set out to address some of these uncertainties by... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Turns Its Massive Crowdsourced Computer Network Against COVID-19

March 16, 2020

For gamers, fighting against a global crisis is usually pure fantasy – but now, it’s looking more like a reality. As supercomputers around the world spin up Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Simulations Reveal the Fate of the Neanderthals

May 25, 2020

For hundreds of thousands of years, neanderthals roamed the planet, eventually (almost 50,000 years ago) giving way to homo sapiens, which quickly became the do Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

Neocortex Will Be First-of-Its-Kind 800,000-Core AI Supercomputer

June 9, 2020

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC - a joint research organization of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh) has won a $5 million award Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Honeywell’s Big Bet on Trapped Ion Quantum Computing

April 7, 2020

Honeywell doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of quantum computing pioneers, but a decade ago the high-tech conglomerate better known for its control systems waded deliberately into the then calmer quantum computing (QC) waters. Fast forward to March when Honeywell announced plans to introduce an ion trap-based quantum computer whose ‘performance’ would... Read more…

By John Russell

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

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU: Up to 2.5X the HPC, 20X the AI

May 14, 2020

Nvidia's first Ampere-based graphics card, the A100 GPU, packs a whopping 54 billion transistors on 826mm2 of silicon, making it the world's largest seven-nanom Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

‘Billion Molecules Against COVID-19’ Challenge to Launch with Massive Supercomputing Support

April 22, 2020

Around the world, supercomputing centers have spun up and opened their doors for COVID-19 research in what may be the most unified supercomputing effort in hist Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Australian Researchers Break All-Time Internet Speed Record

May 26, 2020

If you’ve been stuck at home for the last few months, you’ve probably become more attuned to the quality (or lack thereof) of your internet connection. Even Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

15 Slides on Programming Aurora and Exascale Systems

May 7, 2020

Sometime in 2021, Aurora, the first planned U.S. exascale system, is scheduled to be fired up at Argonne National Laboratory. Cray (now HPE) and Intel are the k 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

TACC Supercomputers Run Simulations Illuminating COVID-19, DNA Replication

March 19, 2020

As supercomputers around the world spin up to combat the coronavirus, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) is announcing results that may help to illumina Read more…

By Staff report

$100B Plan Submitted for Massive Remake and Expansion of NSF

May 27, 2020

Legislation to reshape, expand - and rename - the National Science Foundation has been submitted in both the U.S. House and Senate. The proposal, which seems to Read more…

By John Russell

John Martinis Reportedly Leaves Google Quantum Effort

April 21, 2020

John Martinis, who led Google’s quantum computing effort since establishing its quantum hardware group in 2014, has left Google after being moved into an advi 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