OLCF’s Summit Supercomputer Lives for Another Year with SummitPLUS

By John Russell

March 6, 2024

The giant supercomputer Summit — based at Oak Ridge National Lab’s Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF) —  lives on, at least for one more year supported by a new program, SummitPLUS. Scheduled for shutdown earlier this year, the IBM-built supercomputer has been extraordinarily productive. It was the fastest supercomputer in the world sitting atop the Top500 list in 2018 and 2019, and it remains the fifth fastest based on its November 2023 showing.

Summit ‘s impressive record includes being recognized in two different 2020 Gordon Bell Prize winning efforts (work simulating SARS-CoV-2 virus’ spike protein activity and work modeling and testing of the DeePMD-kit software) and was a Special Gordon Prize finalist in 2019. It was also used by Google in an experiment to demonstrate quantum supremacy, and although that work has engendered controversy, Summit performed as just as promised. This is hardly a full list.

The Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Image courtesy of ORNL.

Today, of course, Summit’s OLCF successor, Frontier, the first U.S. exascale computer, has the limelight and bears the Top500 crown.

Bronson Messer, director of science, OLCF

Now, SummitPLUS is extending the life of Summit, by supporting more than 100 research projects to be run on Summit this year before final shutdown at the end of 2024. Last week, HPCwire had a chance to talk to Bronson Messer, director of science at OLCF, about one of the projects — an effort to better understand the feasibility of quantum computing-HPC system integration and to build a benchmarking suite, Q-Stone, better assess QC-HPC integrations.

But unsurprisingly, Messer didn’t want to neglect SummitPLUS more broadly. Messer’s job is perhaps one of the most exciting and taxing among the big system sites. His charge is to ensure all of OLCF’s computers and scientific instruments are working at full-tilt on worthwhile science projects. Let’s not forget that includes Frontier.

Even as Summit approached sunset, Messer and colleagues thought it could do more. “You know, we’re constantly running a computer in production and looking ahead to the next computer; we have a finite amount of space as everybody does. So it was very much our plan to shut the computer down. But it’s been such a productive scientific instrument that we negotiated with IBM and Nvidia and got a sixth year of support for the machine,” said Messer.

“That took some doing and because it took a considerable amount of effort, we got to the end of the calendar year or close to the end of the calendar year and realized, oh, my gosh, we need to figure out what we’re going to do with the machine for the coming year because we have not included in any of our allocation programs for 2024. So we basically stood up an allocation program and reviewed close to 200 proposals in about four weeks. Yeah, which is the most ridiculously crazy thing that I’ve been involved with so far.”

The lives of these colossal machines are both amazing and short, in the 5-6 year range generally.

Talking about Summit, Messer said, “We have utilization rates well in excess of 80%. So we’ve been running those GPUs full out for five and a half years now. Asking a lot of them. They’re built to last for a while, but they don’t last forever. So it’s a perishable resource to some extent.

“It’s all about maintenance. It’s all about making sure that if changes go into libraries that we get reasonable updates in a reasonable amount of time. There’s hardware failing every day on the machine, right, and we run it hard. That happens on many machines. But you can tell that Summit has been working hard for a long, long time.”

He doesn’t think yet another year is in the cards for Summit and said, “I cannot say for sure, but I think it would be a minor miracle if we extended operations.”

In the meantime, SummitPLUS is a big win for many researchers. “We’ve got people jumping on the machine and using it like gangbusters. You know, the other thing we did with Summit that I didn’t mention is we didn’t allocate all the time available through SummitPLUS. We are also a resource provider for NAIRR, the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource, and easily the biggest right now, during the pilot; we’re offering more time on Summit than any other resource provider currently. So I think we’ll have projects from that program appearing on the machine in the very near future.”

Messer said they don’t normally release the details of all allocations on the machine, but said “I can tell you some stats:

1) “The quantum project we discussed is actually the smallest on the allocation list with 20k node-hours. That doesn’t mean it’s the least important! It’s just ‘right-sized’ for the work to be done at this point. All SummitPLUS projects enjoy the same priority on the machine.

2) “The largest projects have allocations a little more than 10x this size, with the largest allocation going to FUS155 from Noah Reddell from ZAP Energy (300k node-hours).

3) “The average allocation size is about 175k node-hours.”

He did provide the list of projects on SummitPLUS and that list is included below.

It’s notable to recall OLCF’s ground-breaking history. Remember Titan, Summit’s predecessor, which was decommissioned in 2019. Titan was one of the first large scale heterogenous systems. OLCF program director Buddy Bland at the time recalled, “Choosing a GPU-accelerated system was considered a risky choice.”

The Titan supercomputer. Image courtesy of OLCF.

The Top500 List organizers reported in 2012:

“When the 40th edition of the list was released at the start of SC12, the No. 1 position was claimed by Titan, a 560,640 processor system with a Linpack performance of 17.6 petaflop/s. Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Titan is a Cray XK7 system that relies on a combination of GPUs and traditional CPUs to make it the world’s most powerful supercomputer. Each of Titan’s 18,688 nodes contains an NVIDIA Tesla K20 GPU along with a 16-core AMD Opteron 6274 CPU processor, giving the system a peak performance of more than 27 petaflops. Titan also has more than 700 terabytes of memory.

“Titan’s use of GPUs also points the way for future scientific supercomputers. Because GPUs provide high-performance and energy-efficient computing power, they will allow supercomputing systems to become ever more powerful while avoiding the obstacles inherent in growing size and power consumption.”

Now, as Messer pointed out, “We rode the crest of hybrid CPU-GPU computing, for large scale computing, we were at the top of that wave. And now my gosh, it’s the world, literally the world at this point.”

FYI, this article began as an intent to discuss the QC-HPC integration project being run as part of SummitPLUS, but it seemed a stretch to squeeze the two together given Messer’s enthusiasm for the SummitPLUS program generally and Summit’s remarkable history. HPCwire will post an article on the SummitPLUS QC-HPC integration project shortly.

Stay tuned

Top image: Bronson Messer, director of science, OLCF, with the IBM-built Summit supercomputer, was taken in 2019 when Summit was atop the Top500 List.


Project ID Name PI
ARD163 High Order Wall-Modeled Large Eddy Simulation of High-Lift Configurations Dr. Zhi Jian Wang
ARD166 Shock Unsteadiness in Transonic Flow over Supercritical Laminar Flow Control Airfoil Dr. Sanjiva K. Lele
ARD167 Aerodynamic and Aeroacoustic Simulations of a Regional Air Mobility Aircraft with Distributed Electric Propulsion Dr. Vineet Ahuja
ARD168 Development of LES-informed AI/ML models for vortical flows in gas turbines Dr. Michal Osusky
ARD169 Deep Learning Closure for Large Eddy Simulation of Transitional Hypersonic Shockwave-Boundary Layer Interactions Dr. Jonathan Francis MacArt
ARD172 Nonequilibrium effects in hypersonic boundary layers: DNS and data-driven RANS modeling Dr. Akanksha Baranwal
AST196 Metal Loading of Galactic Winds Dr. Mark Krumholz
AST198 Radiative MHD of bright transients from neutron stars Dr. Bart Ripperda
AST199 Ensemble Surveys of Core-collapse Supernovae Dr. Christian Cardall
AST200 From Supernovae to Galactic Winds: The ISM-Halo Connection Dr. Evan Schneider
AST203 Simulations of core-collapse supernovae in 3D with rotation Dr. Austin Harris
AST204 PIC Simulations of the Polarized X-ray Emission from Magnetars Dr. Yuran Chen
ATM145 High-Fidelity Physics-Based Modeling of the Ionosphere-Thermosphere Dr. Ngoc-Cuong Nguyen
ATM146 Energy Exascale Earth System Model Project Dr. Walter Michael Hannah
ATM148 Understanding Extreme Weather Events with AI Forecast Emulators Dr. Rahul Ramachandran
BIF143 Contrastive Learning for Drug Discovery Dr. Jens Glaser
BIF144_MDE Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) Mental Health Trajectories Dr. Mayanka Chandra Shekar
BIP236 Microscopic Characterization of the Full Transport Cycle of a Major Neurotransmitter Transporter in Human Brain Dr. Emad Tajkhorshid
BIP237 Molecular mechanisms of GPCR-mediated phospholipid scrambling Dr. George Khelashvili
BIP240 Modeling key cell cycle processes in bacteria Dr. Jaan Mannik
BIP242 Dynamics and energetics of bacterial pili extension and retraction Dr. James C. Gumbart
BIP243 Revealing the Structural Basis of Functional Selectivity to Create Safe, Effective Drugs Dr. Ron O. Dror
BIP244 Molecular simulation of monoclonal antibody binding to protein A Dr. Abraham Lenhoff
BIP245 Interrogating Virus Aerostability in High pH Conditions Dr. Rommie Amaro
BIP246 Decoding Sequence-Dependent Dynamics of Holliday Junctions in DNA Self-Assembly and Beyond Dr. Aleksei Aksimentiev
CFD180 HPC4EI-CapraBiosciences Dr. Ishan Srivastava
CFD184 Massively Parallel Large Eddy Simulations for High-Efficient Gas Turbines Operating with Hydrogen and High Aerodynamic Loading Dr. Alexander Stein
CFD185 Interface-resolved simulations of scalar transport in turbulent bubbly flows Dr. Parisa Mirbod
CFD186 Particle-Resolved Direct Numerical Simulation of  Particulate Buoyancy-Driven Turbulent Convection Dr. Myoungkyu Lee
CFD188 High-Fidelity Simulations of Sustainable Propulsion and Power Generation Systems Dr. Muhsin Mohammed Ameen
CFD189 Direct numerical simulations of hypersonic boundary layer receptivity and transition Dr. Wesley Harris
CFD190 VERTEX—Advanced Multiphysics Simulations for Core Applications Dr. Marc Olivier Gerard Delchini
CFD191 High-fidelity computation of high-Reynolds number multiphysics problems Dr. Aditya Nair
CHM196 Permeability of Gases in Polymers at Cryogenic Conditions from Molecular Simulation Dr. Walter G Chapman
CHM198 Comparative Performance Analysis of Programming Models Used in GronOR Dr. Tjerk Straatsma
CHM202 Reactive, Generalizable Machine Learning Potentials for Molten Salts Modeling at Scale Dr. Vyacheslav Bryantsev
CHM203 Modeling and Simulation of the Non-Equilibrium Energy Transfer for Efficient Reactions Dr. Ramanan Sankaran
CHM205 Enabling high-accuracy exascale ab initio molecular dynamics Dr. Giuseppe Barca AProf
CHM206 Developing a workflow for the automation of large-scale parallel tempering MD simulations for advancing drug discovery Dr. Thanh D. Do
CHM207 Revealing Promethium Aqua Ion Chemistry Using Relativistic Calculations and Machine Learning Approaches Dr. Alex Ivanov
CHM208 Structure and reactivity at complex interfaces Dr. Vanda Glezakou
CHM209 Multi-determinant diffusion Monte Carlo calculations of isomers of C20 fullerene Dr. Kenneth D Jordan
CHP125 Advanced Numerical Simulation for Measurement based Computing of Quantum Chemistry Dr. Ang Li
CHP126 Deep potential molecular dynamics of electrochemical and atmospherically-relevant aqueous interfaces Dr. Roberto Car
CHP129 Excess entropy strategy for constraining AI parameterized force fields from ab intio simulation. Dr. Jonathan D Nickels
CLI180 High-Resolution E3SM Land Model on GPUs Dr. Peter Thornton
CLI187 Measurement-based high fidelity wind farm simulations for realistic, complex atmospheric conditions Dr. Lawrence Cheung
CLI188 Saving PetaBytes in Earth System Model Outputs using Stochastic Approximations Dr. David Elliot Keyes
CMB153 Benchmark Simulations of Turbulent Multiphysics Processes in a Laboratory-Scale Supersonic Combustor Dr. Joseph C. Oefelein
CMB156 Thermal and chemical nonequilibrium effects in detonation waves revealed by high-fidelity simulations Dr. Jorge Sebastian Salinas
CMB157 Fundamental study of soot formation and flame dynamics of sustainable aviation fuel using DNS Dr. Bruno Souza Soriano
CMB159 Molecular level simularions of reacting flows under thermal and chemical non-equilibrium Dr. Shrey Trivedi
CPH156 Photophysics of Excitons in Low-Dimensional Organic-Inorganic Semiconductors Dr. Marina Rucsandra Filip
CPH159 Computing many-body dispersion and superradiance effects in biomacromolecular dynamics in aqueous environments Dr. Philip Kurian
CPH160 Probing dynamical correlations and information scrambling in Quantum Annealing devices using GPU optimized Tensor Network Methods Dr. Alberto Nocera
CSC452 Performance Analysis and Tuning of HPC and AI Applications Dr. Abhinav Bhatele
CSC555 ILLUMINE Dr. Jana Bozena Thayer
CSC556 SciMLBench Dr. Juri Papay
CSC559 Exploring the Frontiers of Simulated Quantum Computing: Performance and Limitations of Tensor Network Simulators in Solving MaxCut and Many-Body Problems Dr. Vicente Leyton Ortega
CSC562 Exploring and benchmarking prospects for HPC-Quantum integration on a leadership-scale computing platform Mr. Peter Groszkowski
CSC564 Scalable Simulation and Data Analytics with PETSc Dr. Richard Tran Mills
CSC565 Large-Scale Multimodal AI Foundation Models Dr. Irina Rish
ENG142 High Fidelity Operational Reliability Modeling Dr. Slaven Peles
FUS155 Study of Z Pinch Plasma by 3D Kinetic Model on slimmed-memory GPU Dr. Noah Reddell
FUS156 Stellarator performance predictions Dr. Walter Guttenfelder
FUS157 High-fidelity Coupled SOL Impurity Transport Simulations in 3D Complex Geometry Fusion Devices Dr. Jacob Merson
FUS158 Kinetic Simulations of Quasi-Parallel Collisionless Shocks in Laboratory Plasmas Dr. Derek Schaeffer
FUS159 Computational Design of Multi-principle element alloys for fusion energy Dr. Kevin Woller & Dr. Sara E Ferry
FUS160 Tungsten Erosion Modeling in WEST through Synthetic Diagnostic Dr. Abdourahmane Diaw
FUS161 Frameworks for Multiscale Transport Modeling in Fusion Plasmas Dr. Noah Mandell
FUS164 Magnetic Field Generation and Reconnection in High Energy Density Plasmas Dr. William Randolph Fox II
GEO153 SCEC Earthquake Ground Motion Modeling Research Mr. Philip James Maechling
GEO155 EQSIM regional earthquake simulations for San Francisco Bay Area Dr. David McCallen
LGT127 Searching for the critical end point using lattice QCD Dr. Hai-Tao Shu
LGT128 Electromagnetic and strong isospin breaking corrections to strong dynamics Dr. Henry Monge Camacho
LRN038 Autonomously Driven Software – SummitPLUS Pursuit of Level 4 Autonomy Mr. Allan Grosvenor
LRN044 Building Foundational and Surrogate Models for Experiment Steering at LCLS Dr. FREDERIC POITEVIN
LRN045 Dynamic Information Flow for Secure and Real-Time Integration of Edge and HPC Dr. Ryan Neal Coffee
LRN046 Neural Operators for Learning Multi-Scale Multi-Physics Processes Dr. Anima Anandkumar
LRN047 Scalable Swarm Intelligence Dr. Robert Patton
LSC119 Development of foundational AI models for Agriculture Dr. Aditya Balu
MAT267 Modeling plasma facing and structural materials for fusion applications Dr. Sophie Blondel
MAT270 Multiscale Modeling of Subgrain Cellular Structure across Melt Pools in Additive Manufacturing Dr. Lang Yuan
MAT272 Domain dynamics of ferroelectric heterostructures at large scale using causal-informed scientific machine learning and atomistic simulations Dr. Ayana Ghosh
MAT273 Foundational graph neural network models for chemistry and materials science Dr. Victor Fung
MAT274 Rational Design of High-Performing electrodes in Energy Storage Devices Dr. Kwangnam Kim
MAT275 First-Principles Study of NMC-Carbon Interfaces Dr. Zongtang Fang
MAT276 First-principles understanding of the electronic and magnetic properties of doped-magnetic quantum topological materials Dr. Swarnava Ghosh
MAT277 Interplay between length scales as spot melts solidify at varied power profiles Dr. Stephen Joseph DeWitt
MED123 Modelling new materials for hydrogen storage applications Dr. Dario Alfe
MED125 Large-Scale Investigation of CSF Dynamics in the Human Optic Nerve Dr. Diego Rossinelli
MPH118 6,000 kinase simulations for a new molecular dynamics repository Dr. Travis Wheeler
MPH119 Developing a Generative AI Model for Protein Disorder Dr. Julie Carol Mitchell
MPH120 Inverse Design of Near Infrared Fluorophores for Quantum Network Repeaters Dr. Pilsun Yoo
NFI126 Microscopic Framework for Fission Dynamics of Odd-Mass Nuclei Dr. Aurel Bulgac
NFI127 CFD for Advanced Nuclear Reactors Dr. Dillon Shaver
NFI128 Advanced Computing for Scientific Discovery of Molten Salt Reactor Dynamics Dr. April Novak
NPH160 pion and kaon twist-3 GPDs Dr. Martha Constantinou
NPH161 Gravitational Form Factors from Lattice QCD Dr. Keh-Fei Liu
NPH162 Nuclear interactions from QCD Dr. Andre Walker-Loud
NRO109 PeakBrain: Generalizable segmentation models for connectomics Mr. Thomas Uram
PHY182 Quantum Supremacy Dr. Travis Humble
PHY185 First-principles QED-PIC Simulations of High Energy Emission from Pulsars Dr. Revathi Jambunathan
SYB112 Building Ensembles of Single Cell Predictive Expression Networks Dr. Daniel Jacobson
TUR144 Direct Numerical Simulation of Smooth-Body Flow Separation at a High Reynolds Number Dr. Ali Uzun
TUR145 High-fidelity simulations of particle-laden turbulent separating flows Dr. Suhas Jain Suresh

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