Steve Scott Lays Out HPE-Cray Blended Product Roadmap

By Tiffany Trader

March 11, 2020

Last week, the day before the El Capitan processor disclosures were made at HPE’s new headquarters in San Jose, Steve Scott (CTO for HPC & AI at HPE, and former Cray CTO) was on-hand at the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. He was there to discuss the HPE-Cray transition and blended roadmap, as well as his favorite topic, Cray’s eighth-gen networking technology, Slingshot.

HPE announced its intention to acquire Cray last May (2019) for $1.3 billion. At the time, Cray’s Shasta architecture had been selected for two U.S. exascale contracts — Aurora at Argonne and Frontier at Oak Ridge — and it would soon secure the third and final outstanding Department of Energy exascale contract, El Capitan at Livermore. (Note, as we reported last August, the DOE is not seeking a second exascale system for Argonne under the CORAL-2 procurement project.)

With excitement building around its exascale wins, Cray’s profile has only grown stronger as the company was brought into HPE, bucking the trend that we see in many M&As. As Scott said at the Rice event, “Cray went away as an entity, but the Cray systems and Cray brand will definitely persist.”

The companies were fully merged by Jan. 1, 2020.

The way Scott tells it, the transition went smoothly. “The transaction closed in September of 2019, and it literally took one month for organizations to be fully combined. We’re not running as kind of a little subsidiary off the side,” he said.

Pete Ungaro (SVP & GM, HPC & AI at HPE, formerly Cray CEO) runs the combined HPC and AI organization inside HPE. The group has also pulled in additional HPE units: Mission Critical (includes Superdome Flex), the Edge line, and the Moonshot division all report to Ungaro. “Within one month, we had a combined blended leadership team, and we have one organization working as one team,” said Scott.

Consolidation of the product roadmaps was completed inside of two months, in time for SC19, according to Scott. “Within the first month and a half, we had pretty much fully blended our storage and compute roadmaps. It was relatively easy to do because they were somewhat complementary. There were some things that we were doing in both companies, and we chose one,” he said.

Liquid-cooled infrastructure was one of the overlapping technologies, and that choice fell to Cray’s design. Some of the air-cooled commodity cabinets that Cray was developing will be replaced by the HPE Apollo. The storage roadmaps were merged together under ClusterStor.

The HPE Apollo line, comprised of standard 19″ rack systems, has been brought into the Shasta fold, along with the Cray-developed dense, scale-optimized cabinets, now known as Olympus.

“[Pre-Shasta] from a hardware perspective on the XC systems, you had one liquid-cooled cabinet and then if you wanted to have I/O nodes, you had to have them designed into this customized cabinet,” said Scott. “And if you wanted other stuff that didn’t fit in the customized cabinet, you basically had to buy a separate system and hook it up to the side through the I/O subsystem and share it. That all goes away with Shasta. There’s two physical infrastructures: the Apollo infrastructure coming from HPE, and the Olympus infrastructure, which is the dense-liquid cooled infrastructure. You can kind of get anything under the sun to put into the Apollo infrastructure. But then we do a smaller number of custom blades, high performance blades, that are really intended to optimize for the key computational technologies that go into the Olympus infrastructure and that has very high density and direct warm water cooling.”

Of the combined Shasta lineup, Scott said, “It’s the same interconnect that spans them and it’s the same software environment. It’s literally just a physical infrastructure choice. It makes no difference in terms of the look and feel of the system, in terms of the performance of the software and the user experience–it’s literally just a packaging choice.”

In a follow-up email exchange, Scott clarified that HPE still offers the CS line, the commodity Cray line with Appro roots. Recall that the Fujitsu-Cray A64FX boards are supported by the CS500 architecture, a decision that was driven by time-to-market. Long term, HPE expects the CS line to be supplanted by the Apollo line, which will also provide the expanded physical infrastructure for the Shasta supercomputers. Further, HPE is still selling Cray XC systems even as it introduces the new Shasta systems.

With the Olympus architecture, Scott notes every cabinet has a stack of four chassis on the left and another four chassis on the right. Each chassis has eight compute blades that plug into the front, up to 64 compute blades into a single cabinet. And then from the back, you can plug in from one to eight network cards per chassis, which offers configurability in terms of that amount of network bandwidth.

There is direct liquid cooling to all the components, including the optical transceivers for the active optical cables, the memories, and the processors, etc. One cabinet supports up to 512 high wattage GPUs plus 128 CPUs and up to 64 network switches. Currently, Olympus cabinets are shipping with up to 250 kilowatts, and soon that will go to 300 kilowatts, and then 400 kilowatts in a single cabinet, said Scott.

In discussing the reasons for moving to Shasta, Scott emphasized flexibility and upgradability. “The XC system that we’ve been shipping for a number of years is great in lots of ways but it’s not flexible; you can have any number of nodes you want for your blade as long as it’s four; you can have any amount of network bandwidth per node as long as it’s one PCI Gen3 x16 and the node can be any size you want, as long as it’s that, right? It’s a very inflexible design. And we hit limits there especially as we started looking at hotter and hotter processors, and we just couldn’t accommodate in that system design. So Shasta is designed to have a wide diversity of processors, all shapes and sizes, and particularly, of increasingly higher and higher wattages.”

Cray’s first wins with Shasta reflect this diversity at the node. There’s Aurora at Argonne (two Intel Xeon CPUs and six of the Xe GPUs, connected by Compute eXpress Link [CXL]); Perlmutter at NERSC (two AMD Epyc Milan CPUs and four Nvidia Volta-Next GPUs connected by PCIe Gen4); Frontier at Oak Ridge (one custom AMD Epyc CPU plus four Radeon GPUs connected by an enhanced Infinity fabric) and El Capitan at Livermore (AMD’s ‘Genoa’ Zen4 Epyc CPU plus Radeon Instinct GPUs in a one-to-four ratio, connected by AMD’s 3rd Gen AMD Infinity fabric).

While all of these are heterogeneous systems targeting “big flops,” Scott also discussed the CPU-based compute blades going into NERSC Perlmutter, encompassing four dual-socket AMD Epyc “Milan” nodes.

Cray also supports Marvell ThunderX2 Arm processors in its XC50 architecture, as in the recent refresh win (Isambard2) for GW4/UK Met, and supports the Fujitsu A64FX chips in its CS500 system, as already mentioned.

Scott, who has led the design of several generations of supercomputing interconnects, made sure to save time in his presentation to discuss Cray’s new Slingshot network, a pillar of the Shasta architecture and the interconnect on the three DOE exascale systems that are underway. Scott highlighted Slingshot’s pivot to Ethernet, its feeds and speeds, quality of service and congestion control features.

“We have decided to stop building proprietary networks and instead adopt Ethernet. The world is going to Ethernet, so we decided to stop fighting them and instead join them, but instead of just using a commodity Ethernet, we are redesigning Ethernet and bringing HPC to Ethernet. So we have standard Ethernet connectivity at the edges; we can talk to standard NICs; you can talk to other datacenter switches, etc. But inside it’s…a state of the art HPC fabric,” said Scott.

“Our Rosetta switch is 64 ports times 200 gigabits per second,” Scott continued. “This allows you to build really big systems–like those exascale systems–with a network diameter of just three switch to switch hops. The diameter is three whether it’s two cabinets or 20 cabinets or 200 cabinets, which is the neat thing about this Dragonfly topology and having high-radix switches…. It also turns out that we can build a system the size of Frontier, a multi-exaflop system where 90 percent of the cables in the system are short, cheap, reliable electrical copper cables, and only 10 percent of them have to be optics.”

“[With Shasta], the way that the network blades and the compute blades are put in the system also gives you the flexibility to put a second generation network, and a third generation network. We will absolutely be going to optics everywhere within a couple of generations without having to worry about redesigning the electrical backplane and that sort of thing. So it gives us a lot of flexibility on the interconnect side as well,” he said.

Watch Scott’s full presentation from the 2020 Rice Oil and Gas conference below for additional details on the Slingshot network, the E1000 ClusterStor system, and the Cray software environment.

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


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