GTC21: Dell Building Cloud Native Supercomputers at U Cambridge and Durham

By John Russell

April 14, 2021

In conjunction with GTC21, Dell Technologies today announced new supercomputers at universities across DiRAC (Distributed Research utilizing Advanced Computing) in the UK with plans to explore use of Nvidia BlueField DPU technology.

The University of Cambridge will expand its Cambridge Service for Data Driven Discovery (CSD3) system featuring:

  • More than 400 PowerEdge C6520 servers with 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors;
  • More than 80 PowerEdge XE8525 servers with 3rd Gen AMD Epyc processors and Nvidia A100 GPUs with NVLink;
  • And four petaflops of application performance to advance research across astrophysics, nuclear fusion power generation and clinical medicine applications.

Durham University’s COSMA8 supercomputer, currently in prototype, is set to fully deploy in October 2021 with:

  • More than 90 PowerEdge C6525 servers with 2nd and 3rd Gen AMD Epyc processors;
  • Direct Liquid Cooling and Nvidia Mellanox HDR InfiniBand networking
  • And plans to expand COSMA8 to more than 600 compute nodes over the next year to deliver computational power and efficiency for research into dark energy and black holes.

(DiRAC supports a significant portion of the UK’s STFC’s science program, providing simulation and data modelling resources for the UK Frontier Science theory community in Particle Physics, astroparticle physics, astrophysics, cosmology, solar system & planetary science and Nuclear physics (PPAN; collectively STFC Frontier Science). iDiRAC services are optimized for these research communities and operate as a single distributed facility which provides the range of architectures needed to deliver our world-leading science outcomes.)

Nvidia BlueField-2 DPU

“The Cambridge University system would easily rank in the top 70-to-75 of the Top500 list and is or will be the world’s first academic cloud native supercomputer,” said Gilad Shainer, senior vice president of marketing, Mellanox networking, Nvidia, in a pre-briefing. “The system will be used as part of the continuous development of the capabilities of cloud native supercomputing as part of a collaboration with OpenStack [in which] the university wants to bring in OpenStack and run it on the DPU.”

Shainer noted Cambridge University collaborates widely with medical institutes in the UK, and said that building a ‘cloud native supercomputing architecture’ would strengthen its security capabilities and “make it easier to be able to bring personal information or clinical information into supercomputers as part of doing analysis.”

The CSD3 employs a new cloud-native supercomputing platform enabled by Nvidia and a cloud HPC software stack, called Scientific OpenStack, developed by the University of Cambridge and StackHPC with funding from the DiRAC HPC Facility and the IRIS Facility.

The Durham University system is focused on cosmology and physics.

“COSMA 8 is aiming to model the entire universe, over time, from the big bang to today. It will allow humankind to continue advancing our understanding of where we came from and our place in the cosmos, using larger-scale simulations than ever before,” said Alastair Basden, technical manager for the DiRAC Memory Intensive Service at Durham University. “The massive scale of these simulations relies on the bandwidth only InfiniBand can deliver to make this research possible. It’s one example of how DiRAC and Durham University continue to advance the field of supercomputing through their ongoing collaboration with Nvidia.”

Nvidia posted a blog on the Cambridge University system (by Gilad Shainer) and a brief description of cloud native supercomputing (by Rick Merrick) as well as the Durham announcement.

Basden also gave a talk at GTC (On the edge of Exascale, Nvidia Bluefield at Durham University) looking at Durham’s early work with BlueField-1. The COSMA8 prototype system entered service in October 2020 (full specs from Durham website) and the full COSMA8 system is currently being installed, and due to enter service in October 2021.

“Effectively, [COSMA] is part of the UK DiRAC tier-1 national facility. It started life in 2001 as COSMA1, and it’s now in its eighth generation as COSMA8,” said Basden in his talk. “We have a terabyte of RAM per node and a full HDR 200 non-blocking fabric with a fat tree topology. We also have direct liquid cooling on-chip, five petabyte bulk storage system attached to it and a 1.25 petabyte scratch storage system for dumping our restart files onto in this work. This runs at about 400 gigabytes per second, not gigabits, [and that’s] something fairly fast during.”

Currently, Basden’s team is using BlueField-1 in exploratory work to determine if it can be used, for example, to help solve delays associated with what’s called the MPI Progression Problem. His presentation is best watched directly, but broadly Basden reported progress and is hopeful that what he calls SmartNICs (ie, the DPUs) can help with data traffic housekeeping and MPI issues.

Here are a couple excerpts (lightly edited):

“Basically what we’re looking at doing is…the hosts are doing the science calculations. The BlueField tasks are then the ones that are responsible for moving data around if that’s appropriate. Now all of this is in fairly early stages. So we haven’t got something yet that we’d want to put into production code. It’s all ideas that are formulating and we’re trying things that we’re gradually working out,” noted Basden in his talk.

When asked about overall issues, he said:

“The first thing I’ll say is [using BlueField] is not trivial. It’s not simple. [The cards] can be run in two different modes. One is what they call an embedded mode, where it kind of acts like an embedded switch. The other is host separated mode, where both the host and your card have their own MAC addresses, they can then address each other, but they can also be addressed. That’s the mode that we’re using that we found most useful, because it gives you most flexibility, gives you most power to do exactly what you want to do,” said Basden.

“Now, of course, what we do with our codes is compile two versions of the code; compile the x86 version that runs on the host, and then an Arm version that runs on the BlueField. And then we do an MPI run that will launch all of those at once, in the right places. So that’s a useful thing to have. [It] simplifies things a lot. We find it useful — even if we’re not using MPI for communications underneath, it’s a good way of launching these tasks at the same time in the right places, etc.”

Here are a couple of slides from his talk, but the session is best seen in full.

Link to Nvidia blog on the University of Cambridge: https://blogs.nvidia.com/blog/2021/04/14/csd3-cloud-native-supercomputer-cambridge-university/

Link to the Nvidia brief description of Cloud Native Supercomputing: https://blogs.nvidia.com/blog/2021/04/14/what-is-a-cloud-native-supercomputer/

Link to the Durham announcement: https://nvidianews.nvidia.com/news/durham-university-and-diracs-new-nvidia-infiniband-powered-supercomputer-to-accelerate-our-understanding-of-the-universe

Link to Baden’s GTC21 talk: https://gtc21.event.nvidia.com/media/1_2zpi3u45?ncid=ref-spo-38311

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industry updates delivered to you every week!

Weekly Wire Roundup: July 8-July 12, 2024

July 12, 2024

HPC news can get pretty sleepy in June and July, but this week saw a bump in activity midweek as Americans realized they still had work to do after the previous holiday weekend. The world outside the United States also s Read more…

Nvidia, Intel not Welcomed in New Apple AI and HPC Development Tools

July 12, 2024

New Mac developer tools will leverage Apple's homegrown chips, limiting HPC users' ability to use parallel programming frameworks from Intel or Nvidia. Apple's latest programming framework, Xcode 16, was introduced at Read more…

Virga: Australia’s New HPC and AI Powerhouse

July 11, 2024

Australia has officially added another supercomputer to the TOP500 list with the implementation of Virga. Officially coming online in June 2024, Virga is the newest HPC system to come out of the Australian Commonwealth S Read more…

NSF Issues Next Solicitation and More Detail on National Quantum Virtual Laboratory

July 10, 2024

After percolating for roughly a year, NSF has issued the next solicitation for the National Quantum Virtual Lab program — this one focused on design and implementation phases of the Quantum Quantum Science and Technolo Read more…

NCSA’s SEAS Team Keeps APACE of AlphaFold2

July 9, 2024

High-performance computing (HPC) can often be challenging for researchers to use because it requires expertise in working with large datasets, scaling the software, and selecting the best user interface. The National Read more…

Anders Jensen on Europe’s Plan for AI-optimized Supercomputers, Welcoming the UK, and More

July 8, 2024

The recent ISC24 conference in Hamburg showcased LUMI and other leadership-class supercomputers co-funded by the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU), including three of the 10 highest-ranking Top500 systems, but some other ne Read more…

Shutterstock 2203611339

NSF Issues Next Solicitation and More Detail on National Quantum Virtual Laboratory

July 10, 2024

After percolating for roughly a year, NSF has issued the next solicitation for the National Quantum Virtual Lab program — this one focused on design and imple Read more…

NCSA’s SEAS Team Keeps APACE of AlphaFold2

July 9, 2024

High-performance computing (HPC) can often be challenging for researchers to use because it requires expertise in working with large datasets, scaling the softw Read more…

Anders Jensen on Europe’s Plan for AI-optimized Supercomputers, Welcoming the UK, and More

July 8, 2024

The recent ISC24 conference in Hamburg showcased LUMI and other leadership-class supercomputers co-funded by the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU), including three Read more…

Generative AI to Account for 1.5% of World’s Power Consumption by 2029

July 8, 2024

Generative AI will take on a larger chunk of the world's power consumption to keep up with the hefty hardware requirements to run applications. "AI chips repres Read more…

US Senators Propose $32 Billion in Annual AI Spending, but Critics Remain Unconvinced

July 5, 2024

Senate leader, Chuck Schumer, and three colleagues want the US government to spend at least $32 billion annually by 2026 for non-defense related AI systems.  T Read more…

Point and Click HPC: High-Performance Desktops

July 3, 2024

Recently, an interesting paper appeared on Arvix called Use Cases for High-Performance Research Desktops. To be clear, the term desktop in this context does not Read more…

IonQ Plots Path to Commercial (Quantum) Advantage

July 2, 2024

IonQ, the trapped ion quantum computing specialist, delivered a progress report last week firming up 2024/25 product goals and reviewing its technology roadmap. Read more…

Shutterstock_1687123447

Nvidia Economics: Make $5-$7 for Every $1 Spent on GPUs

June 30, 2024

Nvidia is saying that companies could make $5 to $7 for every $1 invested in GPUs over a four-year period. Customers are investing billions in new Nvidia hardwa Read more…

Atos Outlines Plans to Get Acquired, and a Path Forward

May 21, 2024

Atos – via its subsidiary Eviden – is the second major supercomputer maker outside of HPE, while others have largely dropped out. The lack of integrators and Atos' financial turmoil have the HPC market worried. If Atos goes under, HPE will be the only major option for building large-scale systems. Read more…

Everyone Except Nvidia Forms Ultra Accelerator Link (UALink) Consortium

May 30, 2024

Consider the GPU. An island of SIMD greatness that makes light work of matrix math. Originally designed to rapidly paint dots on a computer monitor, it was then Read more…

Comparing NVIDIA A100 and NVIDIA L40S: Which GPU is Ideal for AI and Graphics-Intensive Workloads?

October 30, 2023

With long lead times for the NVIDIA H100 and A100 GPUs, many organizations are looking at the new NVIDIA L40S GPU, which it’s a new GPU optimized for AI and g Read more…

Nvidia’s New Blackwell GPU Can Train AI Models with Trillions of Parameters

March 18, 2024

Nvidia's latest and fastest GPU, codenamed Blackwell, is here and will underpin the company's AI plans this year. The chip offers performance improvements from Read more…

Shutterstock_1687123447

Nvidia Economics: Make $5-$7 for Every $1 Spent on GPUs

June 30, 2024

Nvidia is saying that companies could make $5 to $7 for every $1 invested in GPUs over a four-year period. Customers are investing billions in new Nvidia hardwa Read more…

Nvidia Shipped 3.76 Million Data-center GPUs in 2023, According to Study

June 10, 2024

Nvidia had an explosive 2023 in data-center GPU shipments, which totaled roughly 3.76 million units, according to a study conducted by semiconductor analyst fir Read more…

Some Reasons Why Aurora Didn’t Take First Place in the Top500 List

May 15, 2024

The makers of the Aurora supercomputer, which is housed at the Argonne National Laboratory, gave some reasons why the system didn't make the top spot on the Top Read more…

Nvidia H100: Are 550,000 GPUs Enough for This Year?

August 17, 2023

The GPU Squeeze continues to place a premium on Nvidia H100 GPUs. In a recent Financial Times article, Nvidia reports that it expects to ship 550,000 of its lat Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

AMD Clears Up Messy GPU Roadmap, Upgrades Chips Annually

June 3, 2024

In the world of AI, there's a desperate search for an alternative to Nvidia's GPUs, and AMD is stepping up to the plate. AMD detailed its updated GPU roadmap, w Read more…

Intel’s Next-gen Falcon Shores Coming Out in Late 2025 

April 30, 2024

It's a long wait for customers hanging on for Intel's next-generation GPU, Falcon Shores, which will be released in late 2025.  "Then we have a rich, a very Read more…

Google Announces Sixth-generation AI Chip, a TPU Called Trillium

May 17, 2024

On Tuesday May 14th, Google announced its sixth-generation TPU (tensor processing unit) called Trillium.  The chip, essentially a TPU v6, is the company's l Read more…

Choosing the Right GPU for LLM Inference and Training

December 11, 2023

Accelerating the training and inference processes of deep learning models is crucial for unleashing their true potential and NVIDIA GPUs have emerged as a game- Read more…

IonQ Plots Path to Commercial (Quantum) Advantage

July 2, 2024

IonQ, the trapped ion quantum computing specialist, delivered a progress report last week firming up 2024/25 product goals and reviewing its technology roadmap. Read more…

The NASA Black Hole Plunge

May 7, 2024

We have all thought about it. No one has done it, but now, thanks to HPC, we see what it looks like. Hold on to your feet because NASA has released videos of wh Read more…

Q&A with Nvidia’s Chief of DGX Systems on the DGX-GB200 Rack-scale System

March 27, 2024

Pictures of Nvidia's new flagship mega-server, the DGX GB200, on the GTC show floor got favorable reactions on social media for the sheer amount of computing po Read more…

MLPerf Inference 4.0 Results Showcase GenAI; Nvidia Still Dominates

March 28, 2024

There were no startling surprises in the latest MLPerf Inference benchmark (4.0) results released yesterday. Two new workloads — Llama 2 and Stable Diffusion Read more…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire