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

By Tiffany Trader

July 30, 2020

During its second-quarter earnings call, Intel announced a one-year delay of its 7nm process technology, which it says 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, said Intel CEO Bob Swan during the July 23, 2020, earnings call.

“We’ve root-caused the issue, and believe there are no fundamental roadblocks,” said Swan. “But we’ve also invested in contingency plans to hedge against further schedule uncertainty. We’ve mitigated the impact of the process delay on our product schedule by leveraging improvements in design methodology, such as die disaggregation and advanced packaging.”

The delay in 7nm potentially puts a kink in Intel’s plans to stand up the Aurora supercomputer at Argonne National Laboratory on-schedule by the end of 2021. Intel, the prime contractor, is building the machine with HPE/Cray, using Intel’s 10nm “Sapphire Rapids” Xeon CPU and its 7nm “Xe” datacenter GPU, codenamed “Ponte Vecchio.”

As the centerpiece of Aurora, the frontrunner of the U.S. exascale program, Ponte Vecchio would herald Intel’s entry into the datacenter GPU market. The GPU was also intended to be Intel’s first 7nm product.

Ponte Vecchio’s release is now slated for “late 2021 or early 2022” and Intel is working with outside fabs on at least some elements of the GPU.

Bob Swan on the Q2 earnings call:

“We will continue to invest in our future process technology roadmap, but we will be pragmatic and objective in deploying the process technology that delivers the most predictability and performance for our customers, whether that be in our process, external foundry process or a combination of both. Our advanced packaging technologies combined with our disaggregated architecture give us tremendous flexibility to use the process technology that best serves our customers. As an example, our datacenter GPU design, Ponte Vecchio, will now be released in late 2021 or early 2022, utilizing external and internal process technologies combined with our world-leading packaging technologies.”

Swan stated the “first Intel-based 7nm product” would be a client CPU in late 2022 or early 2023.

I suppose “first Intel-based 7nm product” can be parsed creatively if not naturally (with “Intel-based” modifying the process not the product), but it’s looking like at launch Ponte Vecchio, at least the GPU die portion, will not be built on 7nm, certainly not Intel’s node since it won’t be ready until a year later. There is speculation that Intel could shift production to TSMC as part of its “contingency plans.”

Aurora node design, as presented at SC19 by Intel’s Raja Koduri

Given the Department of Energy’s fixed performance and power targets for Aurora and the timeframe of late 2021 or early 2022, TSMC’s 5nm node is a likely candidate.

In the quote above, Swan references Ponte Vecchio “utilizing external and internal process technologies.” The I/O die and GPU die (and the memory stack) can be implemented on different nodes. AMD does this with its Epyc CPUs; Rome, for example, employs 7nm CPU cores and a 14nm I/O die.

From Swan again:

“Originally the architecture of Ponte Vecchio includes an I/O based die, connectivity, a GPU and some memory tiles, all kind of packaged together. That’s kind of the design of Ponte Vecchio. From the beginning, we would do some of those tiles inside and some of those tiles outside, and again leverage the packaging technology as a proof point of how do we mix and match different designs into one package. So, that was the design from the beginning… that design disaggregation gives us lots of flexibility.

“As we go forward now, we can think about whether we introduce Ponte Vecchio with… I think, I said some of those tiles are inside and outside from the beginning. Now, as we go forward, we can assess whether we swap out one of our tiles for a third-party foundry or not. Again, that’s the beauty and value of this change and design methodology that gives us much more optionality and flexibility. So, in the event there’s a process slip, we can buy something rather than make it all ourselves.”

Swan is putting a positive spin on the GPU’s disaggregated design, but swapping out the GPU compute die, as it seems like Intel will need to do, is not a minor change. The process node directly correlates to the performance and energy targets of the Ponte Vecchio GPU and by extension the Aurora system, wherein the GPU will deliver most of the performance and drive a good portion of the power demand.

Intel reported 10nm Sapphire Rapids is on track to begin shipping in the second half of 2021, and its “Intel-based 7nm datacenter CPU” is on the roadmap for the first half of 2023.

Aurora is central to the United States’ exascale plans. Its current implementation, known as Aurora21, has been positioned as the first U.S. exascale machine, although Intel has not committed publicly to a one-exaflops Linpack target.

Aurora is not the only exascale machine in development in the U.S. Oak Ridge National Lab (with HPE and AMD) is aiming to stand up the 1.5 exaflops (minimum peak) Frontier system along a contemporaneous timeframe (late 2021), and with uncertainties around Intel’s datacenter GPU execution, the odds just increased for Oak Ridge taking the lead in the United States’ exascale rollout. Lawrence Livermore National Lab (also with HPE and AMD) is looking to deploy El Capitan — slated to deliver 2 exaflops peak — one year later in late 2022. All three systems feature HPE’s Cray Shasta architecture.

Aurora was originally conceived as a pre-exascale supercomputer in 2015. The DOE CORAL contract called for a 180 petaflops (peak) machine composed of Intel Xeon Phi Knights Hill processors and second-generation OmniPath fabric technology to be stood up at Argonne in 2018. Plans were scrapped as Intel pulled back on, and eventually canceled, Phi and OmniPath development, and the contract was redefined and expanded.

Announcement of the 7nm delay contrasted with Intel’s strong second-quarter financials. The company’s second-quarter revenue of $19.7 billion was up 20 percent year-over-year. Data-centric revenue grew 34 percent, accounting for 52 percent of total revenue. Profit rose 22 percent to $5.11 billion, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, but stocks plunged 18 percent on news of the delay and lowered Q3 guidance, and at the time of this writing have not recovered.

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!

Research: A Survey of Numerical Methods Utilizing Mixed Precision Arithmetic

August 5, 2020

Within the past years, hardware vendors have started designing low precision special function units in response to the demand of the machine learning community and their demand for high compute power in low precision for Read more…

By Hartwig Anzt and Jack Dongarra

Implement Photonic Tensor Cores for Machine Learning?

August 5, 2020

Researchers from George Washington University have reported an approach for building photonic tensor cores that leverages phase change photonic memory to implement a neural network (NN). Their novel architecture, reporte Read more…

By John Russell

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 the pinnacle of HPE's HPC portfolio. After announcing its i Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Machines, Connections, Data, and Especially People: OAC Acting Director Amy Friedlander Charts Office’s Blueprint for Innovation

August 3, 2020

The path to innovation in cyberinfrastructure (CI) will require continued focus on building HPC systems and secure connections between them, in addition to the increasingly important goals of data best practices and work Read more…

By Ken Chiacchia, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center/XSEDE

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, analysts said the acquisition would cement Nvidia’s stat Read more…

By George Leopold

AWS Solution Channel

AWS announces the release of AWS ParallelCluster 2.8.0

AWS ParallelCluster is a fully supported and maintained open source cluster management tool that makes it easy for scientists, researchers, and IT administrators to deploy and manage High Performance Computing (HPC) clusters in the AWS cloud. 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…

Summer Reading: Here’s a Quantum Advantage You Can Bet On!

August 3, 2020

While quantum computing researchers today vigorously chase a demonstration of a quantum advantage – an application which when run on a quantum computer provides sufficient advantage to warrant switching from a classica Read more…

By John Russell

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

Machines, Connections, Data, and Especially People: OAC Acting Director Amy Friedlander Charts Office’s Blueprint for Innovation

August 3, 2020

The path to innovation in cyberinfrastructure (CI) will require continued focus on building HPC systems and secure connections between them, in addition to the Read more…

By Ken Chiacchia, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center/XSEDE

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

PEARC20 Plenary Introduces Five Upcoming NSF-Funded HPC Systems

July 30, 2020

Five new HPC systems—three National Science Foundation-funded “Capacity” systems and two “Innovative Prototype/Testbed” systems—will be coming onlin Read more…

By Ken Chiacchia, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center/XSEDE

Nvidia Dominates Latest MLPerf Training Benchmark Results

July 29, 2020

MLPerf.org released its third round of training benchmark (v0.7) results today and Nvidia again dominated, claiming 16 new records. Meanwhile, Google provided e Read more…

By John Russell

$39 Billion Worldwide HPC Market Faces 3.7% COVID-related Drop in 2020

July 29, 2020

Global HPC market revenue reached $39 billion in 2019, growing a healthy 8.2 percent over 2018, according to the latest analysis from Intersect360 Research. A 3 Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Agenting Change: PEARC20 Keynote Encourages Cultural Change to Make Tech Better, More Diverse

July 29, 2020

The tech world will need to become more diverse if it is to thrive and survive, said Cherri Pancake, director of the Northwest Alliance for Computational Resear Read more…

By Ken Chiacchia, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center/XSEDE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

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

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

‘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

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 in Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

$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

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

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