AMD’s Top500 Showing Points to Progress and Commitment

By John Russell

June 22, 2020

AMD’s recent return to the upper echelons of HPC was marked by gains on the latest Top500 list announced today in conjunction with ISC 2020, which is has been transformed this year into a digital event with livestreamed and pre-recorded sessions. There are 11 systems using AMD Epyc microprocessors (8 Rome and 2 Naples and a Sugon system using CPU technology licensed from AMD) on the current list – that includes four systems in the top 50 and notably Nvidia’s Selene SuperPOD system which debuted at number seven.

The latest Top500 results show AMD’s growing strength in high-end server and supercomputer markets following the launch of its Epyc microprocessor line in June 2017. AMD had walked away from the server market for years.

During the intervening period several legacy HPC systems using AMD Opteron CPUs remained on the Top500 though declining in position. It is interesting to recall AMD’s Opteron glory days. It made its first appearance in 2003 with four systems. In 2010 there were 51 Opteron-based systems. By 2018 there were just two systems, including venerable Titan (ORNL) which was the first big supercomputer to bet on GPU accelerators. It was retired last summer. There are no Opteron-based on the current list.

Last November, AMD returned to the list with two systems using Epyc microprocessors. The jump to 11 now is a good sign. Today’s showing, along with several big recent wins including two of the planned U.S. exascale systems (Frontier and El Capitan), suggests that systems builders, cloud providers, and the user community are now convinced AMD is in high-end CPUs for the long haul.

“Leading HPC institutions are increasingly leveraging the power of 2nd Gen AMD EPYC processors to enable cutting-edge research that addresses the world’s greatest challenges,” said Forrest Norrod, senior vice president and general manager, data center and embedded systems group, AMD. “Our AMD EPYC CPUs, Radeon Instinct accelerators and open software programming environment are helping to advance the industry towards exascale-class computing, and we are proud to strengthen the global HPC ecosystem through our support of the top supercomputing clusters and cloud computing environments.”

Here are the 11 systems using AMD Epyc microprocessors on the most recent Top500:

  • #7 – Selene, the DGX A100 SuperPOD by Nvidia with Epyc 7742s, (277,760 Epyc cores and 241,920 GPU cores)
  • #30 – Belenos, an Atos Bull Sequana XH2000 with Epyc 7742s (all Epyc cores)
  • #34 – Joliot-Curie, Atos Bull Sequana XH2000 with 7H12 (all Epyc cores)
  • #48 – Mahti—Atos Bull Sequana with 7H12 (all Epyc cores)
  • #56 – Betzh, Atos Bull Sequana XH2000 with 7742 (all Epyc cores)
  • #58Advanced Computing System (PreE), Sugon TC8600, Hygon Dhyana 32c 2GHz (licensed technology from AMD)
  • #124Freeman, Cray CS500 with Epyc 7542s (all Epyc)
  • #172 – Betty, Cray CS500 with Epyc 7542s (all Epyc)
  • #268 – CARA, NEC Cluster with Epyc 7601s (all Epyc)
  • #292 No name, Sugon TC6000 with Epyc 7501s (100,800 Epyc cores, 89,600 Vega 20 cores)
  • #482Spartan, Atos Bull Sequana XH2000 with Epyc 7H12s (all Epyc)

As the Top500 organizers noted, “The x86 continues to be the dominant processor architecture, being present in 481 of the 500 systems. Intel claims 469 of these, with AMD installed in 11 and Hygon in the remaining one.  Arm processors are present in just four TOP500 systems, three of which employ the new Fujitsu A64FX processor, with the remaining one powered by Marvell’s ThunderX2 processor.”

Four of the new Epyc-based systems are from Atos. “Atos is proud to provide to its customers with cutting edge technology, integrating 2nd Gen AMD Epyc processors as soon as released, and demonstrating increased performance on HPC applications in production environments,” said Agnès Boudot, group senior vice president, head of HPC and Quantum at Atos.

Coinciding with release of the latest Top500 list AMD reported, “Momentum for AMD EPYC processors in advanced science and health research continues to grow with new installations at Indiana University, Purdue University and CERN as well as high-performance computing (HPC) cloud instances from Amazon Web Services, Google and Oracle Cloud.”

Link to AMD release, https://www.amd.com/en/press-releases/2020-06-22-amd-epyc-processor-adoption-expands-new-supercomputing-and-high 

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