How Google and Intel Removed a Key Barrier to Entry for HPC in the Cloud

August 9, 2021

Enterprises and research organizations alike are eager to adopt cloud computing to expand computing capacity and access the latest technologies. But too often, setting up robust HPC environments in the cloud has meant wrangling with unfamiliar concepts and tools, resulting in slow deployments, software incompatibilities, and subpar performance.

Now, Intel and Google have teamed up to make cloud-based HPC familiar, compatible, and performant. Building on Google’s HPC VM image and the Intel® Select Solutions for Simulation & Modeling specification, Google has produced a turnkey solution that automates creation of Intel Select Solution-compliant HPC clusters on Google Cloud.

“Through our collaboration, we’re making it simpler than ever to have an HPC environment in the cloud that runs your workloads without modification, delivers optimized performance, and lowers the barriers to cloud adoption for HPC,” explains Bill Magro, chief technologist for HPC at Google Cloud. “With this turnkey solution, customers can create an auto-scaling HPC cluster that has achieved Intel Select verification and provides performance and compatibility with a wide range of HPC applications.”

Ongoing Teamwork

Intel and Google collaborate regularly to advance HPC in the cloud. This latest round of innovation grows out of an ongoing collaboration stream focused on aligning with the Intel Select Solutions Simulation & Modeling specification and delivering optimal HPC experiences for C2 instances based on 2nd Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors.

In February, Google introduced a CentOS-based VM image for HPC, providing preconfigured operating system and network settings tuned for HPC performance, particularly on tightly coupled MPI workloads. Phase 2 of the collaboration moved to node-level compliance with the Intel HPC Platform specification, incorporating Intel runtime libraries into the HPC VM image and making Intel’s software optimizations for Intel Xeon Scalable processors easily available to user applications running on Google Cloud. Node-level compliance also provides dependencies needed for compatibility in many open source, in-house, and off-the-shelf applications.

Now, by providing full, platform-level compliance and making it easy for Google Cloud users to spin up validated Intel Select Solution clusters, Google Cloud can onboard new customers quickly and provide them with an extra layer of compatibility, confidence, and performance.

“Intel Select clusters provide a known environment,” says Magro. “We are working with Altair, Omnibond and SchedMD, for example, to develop turnkey, compliant HPC environments. With these solutions, customers can proceed with a high degree of confidence. ISVs can grow their revenue without the burden of supporting their software in unknown environments.”

Every Intel Select Solution HPC cluster complies with the Intel HPC Platform specification. This provides Google Cloud users the benefit of validated compatibility with popular applications in Intel’s HPC Application Catalog.

“We are excited that Slurm customers can now use the Slurm-GCP solution to easily and quickly stand up auto-scaling Intel Select clusters,” says Nick Ihli, director, cloud sales and engineering at SchedMD. “Having an optimized HPC Slurm environment, even down to the node level, further solidifies the value and flexibility of running your HPC workloads in the cloud.”

“Customers worldwide rely on Altair’s PBS Professional and Grid Engine software for their workload management needs,” said Piush Patel, senior vice president, strategic relationships, Altair. “We are pleased to be working with Google and Intel to bring turnkey Intel Select Solutions for HPC to Google Cloud.”

Engineer-to-Engineer Collaboration

Google’s experts worked closely with Intel throughout the development cycle, starting with creating and optimizing the C2 instance. “It was an end-to-end, hands-on collaboration that involved a number of different teams,” Magro recalls. For example, software engineers worked together on performance-focused details such as how to expose the platform in the highest performance to MPI applications.

Another area of collaboration: in contrast to many cloud service offerings, C2 instances provide OS-level visibility into many low-level details of the Intel Xeon Scalable platform, including NUMA topology and C states. “We’re using techniques that have been developed to optimize HPC on premises and making them available to applications in the cloud. It makes a huge performance difference for HPC workloads,” says Magro.

Compatibility and ease of use were also a focus. For example, the Google team added a new tool to the HPC VM image to ensure customers would have the required libraries installed. They coordinated with Intel to make sure customers would always be pointed to the latest versions of those libraries. They also worked with SchedMD to automate the setup activities so customers can establish an Intel Select Solutions-compliant cloud within minutes.

“Intel has so much experience in performance-oriented engagements with customers and vendors, and so much knowledge about how to get the best performance from their products,” Magro adds. “Our collaboration has accelerated our product and helped us deliver the highest possible performance while maintaining supportability and compatibility. The result is easier and more powerful cloud access for HPC.”

With the platform-level solution on Google Cloud, customers can create Intel Select Solution verified clusters with Slurm, and with additional solutions from Altair and Omnibond in the near future. You can learn more and get started today with Google’s quickstart guide.

Read more about deploying optimized HPC Clusters on Google Cloud with Intel Select Solutions.

See how Intel strategies and technologies are accelerating HPC in the cloud.


Performance varies by use, configuration and other factors. Learn more at www.Intel.com/PerformanceIndex​​.

Performance results are based on testing as of dates shown in configurations and may not reflect all publicly available updates. See backup for configuration details. No product or component can be absolutely secure.

Your costs and results may vary.

Intel technologies may require enabled hardware, software, or service activation.

Intel does not control or audit third-party data. You should consult other sources to evaluate accuracy.

© Intel Corporation. Intel, the Intel logo, and other Intel marks are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries. Other names and brands may be claimed as the properties of others.

 

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