Three Universities Team for NSF-Funded ‘ACES’ Reconfigurable Supercomputer Prototype

By Oliver Peckham

September 23, 2021

As Moore’s law slows, HPC developers are increasingly looking for speed gains in specialized code and specialized hardware – but this specialization, in turn, can make testing and deploying code trickier than ever. Now, researchers from Texas A&M University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Texas at Austin have teamed, with NSF funding, to build a $5 million prototype supercomputer (“ACES”) with a dynamically configurable smörgåsbord of hardware, aiming to support developers as hardware needs grow ever more diverse.

ACES (short for “Accelerating Computing for Emerging Sciences”) is presented as an “innovative composable hardware platform.” ACES will leverage a PCIe-based composable framework from Liqid to offer access to Intel’s high-bandwidth memory Sapphire Rapids processors and more than 20 accelerators: Intel FPGAs; NEC Vector Engines; NextSilicon co-processors; Graphcore IPUs (Intelligence Processing Units); and Intel’s forthcoming Ponte Vecchio GPUs. All this hardware will be coupled with Intel Optane memory and DDN Lustre Storage and connected with Mellanox NDR 400Gbps networking.

“ACES will enable applications and workflows to dynamically integrate the different accelerators, memory, and in-network computing protocols to glean new insights by rapidly processing large volumes of data,” the NSF grant reads, “and provide researchers with a unique platform to produce complex hybrid programming models that effectively supports calculations that were not feasible before.”

“ACES takes the next step over current and planned XSEDE resources by incorporating composability, reconfigurable hardware, novel accelerators, high bandwidth memory processors and networking that are currently not available to researchers,” Honggao Liu, executive director of Texas A&M’s High Performance Research Computing (HPRC) and principal investigator for the ACES project, told HPCwire. “ACES leverages Liqid’s innovative composable infrastructure platform that unifies multi-fabric support for composability across PCIe 5.0 allowing it to dynamically pair over 20 different accelerators or Optane SSDs to a compute node based on user’s job requirements. The correct accelerators can be used based on the workflow, while unblocked resources may be freely allocated to other jobs.”

“They’ll be able to essentially build the custom environment they require on a per job basis and not be constrained to the contents of a physical server node,” added Timothy Cockerill, director of user services for the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) and co-principal investigator for ACES.

Liu said that the team hopes the ACES platform will be deployed by September 2022 and that it will be housed in a datacenter on the Texas A&M campus.

The ACES system will be used to support researchers across a broad range of disciplines, with the researchers listing everything from health population informatics and agriculture sciences to climate modeling and quantum chemistry in the possible applications of the versatile hardware. Liu explained that the ACES resources will be coordinated through systems supported by the NSF.

“In this way, the ACES system will provide invaluable support to cutting-edge projects across a broad spectrum of research disciplines in the nation,” Liu said. “ACES will also leverage HPRC’s efforts that promote science and broaden participation in computing at the K-12, collegiate and professional levels to have a transformative impact nationally by focusing on training, education and outreach.”

“Exciting advances on many science frontiers will become possible by harnessing the hybrid computing resources and highly adaptable framework offered by ACES to enable increasingly complex scientific workflows driven by geospatial big data and artificial intelligence,” added Shaowen Wang, a professor of geography and geographic information science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and co-principal investigator for ACES. (The other principal investigators for the project include Lisa Perez and Dhruva Chakravorty, both hailing from HPRC at Texas A&M.)

The grant has allotted for this system $5 million from October 2021 through an estimated end date of September 2026, plus an additional $1 million per year for five years to operate and support the system. The grant also marks another success for rising HPC star Liqid, which just last year racked up three consecutive wins under the Department of Defense’s High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP).

“A core tenet of ACES is that the compute task should be attributed to the technology that is best suited to work on it, freeing researchers to truly leverage the strengths of these technologies,” Liu told HPCwire. “By letting researchers run on processors and accelerators best suited for their workflows, ACES will benefit many research and development projects in science and engineering disciplines to glean new insights from rapidly processing large volumes of data.”

To learn more about the ACES project, visit the Texas A&M home page for the project here or read the NSF grant funding the project here.

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!

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 Read more…

Core42 Is Building Its 172 Million-core AI Supercomputer in Texas

May 20, 2024

UAE-based Core42 is building an AI supercomputer with 172 million cores which will become operational later this year. The system, Condor Galaxy 3, was announced earlier this year and will have 192 nodes with Cerebras 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 latest weapon in the AI battle with GPU maker Nvidia and clou Read more…

ISC 2024 Student Cluster Competition

May 16, 2024

The 2024 ISC 2024 competition welcomed 19 virtual (remote) and eight in-person teams. The in-person teams participated in the conference venue and, while the virtual teams competed using the Bridges-2 supercomputers at t Read more…

Grace Hopper Gets Busy with Science 

May 16, 2024

Nvidia’s new Grace Hopper Superchip (GH200) processor has landed in nine new worldwide systems. The GH200 is a recently announced chip from Nvidia that eliminates the PCI bus from the CPU/GPU communications pathway.  Read more…

Europe’s Race towards Quantum-HPC Integration and Quantum Advantage

May 16, 2024

What an interesting panel, Quantum Advantage — Where are We and What is Needed? While the panelists looked slightly weary — their’s was, after all, one of the last panels at ISC 2024 — the discussion was fascinat 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 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…

Europe’s Race towards Quantum-HPC Integration and Quantum Advantage

May 16, 2024

What an interesting panel, Quantum Advantage — Where are We and What is Needed? While the panelists looked slightly weary — their’s was, after all, one of Read more…

The Future of AI in Science

May 15, 2024

AI is one of the most transformative and valuable scientific tools ever developed. By harnessing vast amounts of data and computational power, AI systems can un 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…

ISC 2024 Keynote: High-precision Computing Will Be a Foundation for AI Models

May 15, 2024

Some scientific computing applications cannot sacrifice accuracy and will always require high-precision computing. Therefore, conventional high-performance c Read more…

Shutterstock 493860193

Linux Foundation Announces the Launch of the High-Performance Software Foundation

May 14, 2024

The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, is excited to announce the launch of the High-Performance Softw Read more…

ISC 2024: Hyperion Research Predicts HPC Market Rebound after Flat 2023

May 13, 2024

First, the top line: the overall HPC market was flat in 2023 at roughly $37 billion, bogged down by supply chain issues and slowed acceptance of some larger sys Read more…

Synopsys Eats Ansys: Does HPC Get Indigestion?

February 8, 2024

Recently, it was announced that Synopsys is buying HPC tool developer Ansys. Started in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1970 as Swanson Analysis Systems, Inc. (SASI) by John Swanson (and eventually renamed), Ansys serves the CAE (Computer Aided Engineering)/multiphysics engineering simulation market. 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…

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…

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…

Shutterstock 1606064203

Meta’s Zuckerberg Puts Its AI Future in the Hands of 600,000 GPUs

January 25, 2024

In under two minutes, Meta's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, laid out the company's AI plans, which included a plan to build an artificial intelligence system with the eq Read more…

AMD MI3000A

How AMD May Get Across the CUDA Moat

October 5, 2023

When discussing GenAI, the term "GPU" almost always enters the conversation and the topic often moves toward performance and access. Interestingly, the word "GPU" is assumed to mean "Nvidia" products. (As an aside, the popular Nvidia hardware used in GenAI are not technically... 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…

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…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Eyes on the Quantum Prize – D-Wave Says its Time is Now

January 30, 2024

Early quantum computing pioneer D-Wave again asserted – that at least for D-Wave – the commercial quantum era has begun. Speaking at its first in-person Ana Read more…

Shutterstock 1285747942

AMD’s Horsepower-packed MI300X GPU Beats Nvidia’s Upcoming H200

December 7, 2023

AMD and Nvidia are locked in an AI performance battle – much like the gaming GPU performance clash the companies have waged for decades. AMD has claimed it Read more…

The GenAI Datacenter Squeeze Is Here

February 1, 2024

The immediate effect of the GenAI GPU Squeeze was to reduce availability, either direct purchase or cloud access, increase cost, and push demand through the roof. A secondary issue has been developing over the last several years. Even though your organization secured several racks... Read more…

Intel Plans Falcon Shores 2 GPU Supercomputing Chip for 2026  

August 8, 2023

Intel is planning to onboard a new version of the Falcon Shores chip in 2026, which is code-named Falcon Shores 2. The new product was announced by CEO Pat Gel 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…

GenAI Having Major Impact on Data Culture, Survey Says

February 21, 2024

While 2023 was the year of GenAI, the adoption rates for GenAI did not match expectations. Most organizations are continuing to invest in GenAI but are yet to Read more…

How the Chip Industry is Helping a Battery Company

May 8, 2024

Chip companies, once seen as engineering pure plays, are now at the center of geopolitical intrigue. Chip manufacturing firms, especially TSMC and Intel, have b 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…

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire