This new platform that Atos/Bull started shipping at SURFsara is equipped with Xeon E5 v4 Broadwell processor nodes. Atos/Bull is ready to ship the next generation, still not announced at that moment, but in a couple of weeks from then, Intel would make a big announcement about the next generation of processors. Jean-Pierre Panziera thought everyone is aware of the codename Skylake. He confirmed that this platform is ready but he could not show it yet and talk to the public about it but some of the customers he mentioned will be using these processors.
Bull Sequana also has nodes that can integrate with the Pascal GPUs. When NVIDIA is ready to ship them, the customers will have the next one, called the Volta which promises about 1,5 more performance than the current Pascal. The design from the beginning is compatible with two generations of GPUs, so Atos/Bull will always be ready to ship as soon as NVIDIA will make them available.
One thing Jean-Pierre Panziera thought would be interesting is the availability of a blade with nodes that are based on ARM processors. For this new product, Atos/Bull selected the Cavium ThunderX2 processors. Atos/Bull presented the motherboard on the booth. The company was in the process of upgrading this solution to make it ready for shipping. The first systems will be part of the Mont-Blanc project, financed by the European Commission in the Horizon2020 Work Programme. That will be the first prototype. It will become an industrial product that will be shipping to customers early next year. Atos/Bull already has some customers that have committed and signed a purchase order for this system.
Primeur Magazinethought it to be remarkable that European projects lead to new products.
Jean-Pierre Panziera confirmed that it is a commercial product. So far, the European projects have been mostly targeted at scientific investigation. For Mont-Blanc, it took three different phases of the project to go from something that started in 2010 with exploring ways and developing a very basic hardware to get to the booth where one can offer to customers a system that is really ready for production level and with a good level of performance. Atos/Bull is also integrating it fully into the Bull Sequana platform. The company already has some customers who have signed up for this product. It is deploying systems with several kinds of processors. This is a good achievement for all these European projects. This one is financed by the Work Programme 2020. One is midway in this project and one is already showing some prototypes at ISC'17. By the end of the project, one will have industrialized systems.
The project actually has a larger scope than just the industrialization of this prototype. The partners are also preparing the architecture for the next generation of processors, that will be in the area of the pre-exascale and exascale systems. This is also part of the Mont-Blanc project. This is something that will come into production by 2020-2021.
When one considers the evolution on this platform, Atos/Bull is able to offer to its customers a mix of different architectures. The company is ready for the next generation, all the way to the exascale as the new generation of systems. So far, the company has been targeting the high end and mid-range of the customers but it also is starting a new series of air-cooled systems. These are the classical white boxes of 1U or 2U with four nodes and quite dense to populate the HPC data centre. Atos/Bull is also coming up with new blade systems of 8U with 20 nodes so companies can build their data centre with air-cooled systems. This is what Atos/Bull is preparing and showing for the hardware.
Jean-Pierre Panziera also wanted to tell something about the technology for the interconnect. The systems that Atos/Bull has been shipping so far are usually provided with Infiniband. For the Bull Sequana, the company is preparing the new Bull eXascale Interconnnect (BXI). It will be the backbone of the next big system that Atos/Bull customer, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), will be deploying early next year. All the 8000 nodes will be interconnected by BXI.
Primeur Magazineasked Jean-Pierre Panziera what the plans are for the exascale.
Jean-Pierre Panziera thought that exascale possibly might not yet be for 2020. To have it in production by 2021 might well be quite a challenge. The system in 2020 may not be fully exascale but will certainly be providing 100 times more performance than the systems that one has deployed in the petascale era, back in 2010-2011.