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Primeur weekly 2018-10-08

Special

Where did the first 500 million euro invested by the European Horizon 2020 programme go? ...

Focus

World's first ARM-based supercomputer Isambard is ready for science ...

Exascale supercomputing

New European project ESCAPE-2 on exascale computing for numerical weather prediction gets under way ...

Berkeley Lab, Oak Ridge, and NVIDIA team breaks exaop barrier with deep learning application ...

Coming soon to exascale computing: Software for chemistry of catalysis ...

Quantum computing

ORNL researchers advance quantum computing, science through six DOE awards ...

Berkeley Lab to build an advanced quantum computing testbed ...

Berkeley Lab to push quantum information frontiers with new programmes in computing, physics, materials, and chemistry ...

Berkeley Quantum to accelerate innovation in quantum information science ...

Quantum software company Zapata Computing adds Clark Golestani to Board ...

Defects promise quantum communication through standard optical fiber ...

Focus on Europe

Atos and the University of Reims launch ROMEO, one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world, under the sponsorship of Cedric Villani ...

Special Edition of Open e-IRG Workshop under the Austrian EU Presidency will focus on relationship between Open Science, FAIR data and EOSC ...

Goethe University to develop green supercomputer for science ...

Calling on HPC experts and enthusiasts to propose tutorials and workshops for ISC 2019 ...

ISC 2019 calls for research paper submission by December 12, 2018 ...

Middleware

USC ISI to pilot Cyberinfrastructure Center of Excellence for National Science Foundation ...

Hardware

Tintri co-founder Mark Gritter joins Tintri by DDN as CTO to lead analytics and server virtualization vision ...

DDN simplifies the AI data centre with NVIDIA ...

New research could lead to more energy-efficient computing ...

Applications

New simulation sheds light on spiraling supermassive black holes ...

DNA unzipped, turned around, and rezipped ...

Dark Energy Survey releases first year value-added data products ...

A quantum leap toward expanding the search for dark matter ...

HP-CONCORD paves the way for scalable machine learning in HPC ...

In disaster's wake, novel computing techniques support emergency responders ...

Transition metal dichalcogenides could increase computer speed, memory by a million times ...

A new brain-inspired architecture could improve how computers handle data and advance AI ...

Rochester Institute of Technology leads multi-university collaboration to simulate neutron star mergers ...

The Cloud

Oracle rolls out Autonomous NoSQL Database service ...

Quanta Cloud Technology showcases AI portfolio options at GTC Europe ...

ZeroStack delivers GPU-as-a-Service via NVIDIA hardware ...

World's first ARM-based supercomputer Isambard is ready for science

8 Oct 2018 Frankfurt - At the Workshops Day at ISC'18 in Frankfurt, Germany,Primeur Magazinetalked with Simon McIntosh-Smith, a professor of high-performance computing at the University of Bristol about the first ARM-based supercomputer. With some of his colleagues, Simon McIntosh-Smith designed and built Isambard, the world's first production-ready ARM-based supercomputer. The team worked together with Cray. The machine is actually a Cray XC50. It is a real production machine. It is not going to be just a testbed. One is going to run Isambard as a real science cluster. People in the UK will apply for time on this machine and go through a science review process. If the development team likes what they want to do, they will be allowed time on the Isambard machine. Hopefully, they will log in and use it like they would any other big high-performance machine.

The difference though is under the hood. Isambard will actually be a first generation of high-performance computing optimized ARM-based CPUs. The machine was due to arrive at the end of July 2018 and Simon McIntosh-Smith hoped to open up for science this Summer.

Primeur Magazine: What is the size of the machine?

Simon McIntosh-Smith:It is a full cabinet of the Cray XC50 hardware. It has 168 dual socket nodes. The Cavium ThunderX2 ARM CPUs that are used are 32-core each at 64 cores per node. So, this is something like just over 10.700 cores for the whole machine. Isambard uses the Cray Aries interconnect between all those 168 nodes.

Primeur Magazine: If you position Isambard in the European supercomputing scale, it is tier 0?

Simon McIntosh-Smith:In the UK, one would call it tier 2. The PRACE machines are tier 0. The national machines like Archer in the UK are the tier 1 machines. Isambard is a tier 2 class machine, it is a regional machine. It is operated by four universities together, called the GW4 Alliance - the Great Western four university of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter, all in the southwest of the UK.

Primeur Magazine: This is not a machine you can buy from a catalogue?

Simon McIntosh-Smith:Actually, you pretty much can. That is the other exciting thing. It is just going to be an XC50 standard product. You can go to Cray and buy one of these off their list. Cray is not the only company and not the only system vendor doing ARM-based machines now. HPE and Bull/Atos are doing them too. Fujitsu is having one coming soon. Most of the main vendors now have this on their list. It is becoming more of a commodity standard thing that is just starting to happen now.

Primeur Magazine: This is a good sign that the technology is catching on. At the ARM workshop at ISC'18, you presented some benchmarks?

Simon McIntosh-Smith:Isambard is focused on real science and it is part of the science ecosystem in the UK. So, the team took ten of the most heavily used science codes on the tier 1 machine, Archer. The team has been porting and optimizing those on Isambard. The developers had some early access nodes which are basically a sort of white boxes with the right Cavium ThunderX2 CPUs in them and a pre-release of the Cray software stack. They got all of the Cray compilers, libraries and profilers, as well as all of the open source tools. They had things like GNU compilers and Clang-based compilers as well. They went through all the important science codes. They are all already compiled and running well for the prototype early access. Those are lots of chemistry codes, things like VASP and CASTEP, as well as molecular dynamics codes like GROMACS and NAMD. They have got CFD codes in the top 10 like OpenFOAM and lots of atmosphere and weather codes. In the UK, the unified model from the Met Office is one of the key codes. They also got NEMO, which is an ocean code. All those are real science codes which are already running on this prototype machine.

The team has been presenting itself across the board. Performance was very competitive with the latest x86 and Skylake from Intel. It was really a great fact. It all pretty much worked out of the box. It was good to learn that the software ecosystems are mature. The performance was good. This is really important because that means it is a genuine option for people buying new machines. It is really exciting to see what this means for the team's options when they will be buying their new machines. They will have a bit more variety and more competition. This is good for the team and the users.

Primeur Magazine: As for the machine itself, the processors are ARM?

Simon McIntosh-Smith:Yes. They are Cavium ThunderX2 processors which are based on ARM.

Primeur Magazine: What is the network connect of this system?

Simon McIntosh-Smith:Since Isambard is a Cray XC50, it has the Aries interconnect. That is what they have been using with Intel-based systems for a long time. Also, for the team, interestingly, that is the same interconnect as within the Archer tier 1 machine. When some comparisons are being performed, there are already real results on Archer with Aries and the Cray tool chain. Now, the team can run some tests on Isambard with Aries and the Cray tool chain. The only real difference is the processor. So, the team has gone from an x86 to an ARM-based Cavium ThunderX2 processor and almost everything else is the same. The team is really seeing the difference, going just from one to the other, they can use some sort of apples-to-apples comparison which is very useful for the team.

Primeur Magazine: Surely, you are looking forward to the scientific results of the machine?

Simon McIntosh-Smith:It should be really good, hopefully, if the acceptance goes well. Isambard is bound to be open for science this Summer. Hopefully, people will very quickly get used to the fact that ARM works just like anything else that they use and just start using it for real science.

Primeur Magazine: Thank you very much for this interview.

Ad Emmen

Back to Table of contents

Primeur weekly 2018-10-08

Special

Where did the first 500 million euro invested by the European Horizon 2020 programme go? ...

Focus

World's first ARM-based supercomputer Isambard is ready for science ...

Exascale supercomputing

New European project ESCAPE-2 on exascale computing for numerical weather prediction gets under way ...

Berkeley Lab, Oak Ridge, and NVIDIA team breaks exaop barrier with deep learning application ...

Coming soon to exascale computing: Software for chemistry of catalysis ...

Quantum computing

ORNL researchers advance quantum computing, science through six DOE awards ...

Berkeley Lab to build an advanced quantum computing testbed ...

Berkeley Lab to push quantum information frontiers with new programmes in computing, physics, materials, and chemistry ...

Berkeley Quantum to accelerate innovation in quantum information science ...

Quantum software company Zapata Computing adds Clark Golestani to Board ...

Defects promise quantum communication through standard optical fiber ...

Focus on Europe

Atos and the University of Reims launch ROMEO, one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world, under the sponsorship of Cedric Villani ...

Special Edition of Open e-IRG Workshop under the Austrian EU Presidency will focus on relationship between Open Science, FAIR data and EOSC ...

Goethe University to develop green supercomputer for science ...

Calling on HPC experts and enthusiasts to propose tutorials and workshops for ISC 2019 ...

ISC 2019 calls for research paper submission by December 12, 2018 ...

Middleware

USC ISI to pilot Cyberinfrastructure Center of Excellence for National Science Foundation ...

Hardware

Tintri co-founder Mark Gritter joins Tintri by DDN as CTO to lead analytics and server virtualization vision ...

DDN simplifies the AI data centre with NVIDIA ...

New research could lead to more energy-efficient computing ...

Applications

New simulation sheds light on spiraling supermassive black holes ...

DNA unzipped, turned around, and rezipped ...

Dark Energy Survey releases first year value-added data products ...

A quantum leap toward expanding the search for dark matter ...

HP-CONCORD paves the way for scalable machine learning in HPC ...

In disaster's wake, novel computing techniques support emergency responders ...

Transition metal dichalcogenides could increase computer speed, memory by a million times ...

A new brain-inspired architecture could improve how computers handle data and advance AI ...

Rochester Institute of Technology leads multi-university collaboration to simulate neutron star mergers ...

The Cloud

Oracle rolls out Autonomous NoSQL Database service ...

Quanta Cloud Technology showcases AI portfolio options at GTC Europe ...

ZeroStack delivers GPU-as-a-Service via NVIDIA hardware ...