RFHPC203: A Look at China’s New Exascale Prototypes

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at China’s new ARM-based Exascale supercomputer prototype.

As reported in China Daily, scientists have put an exascale computing prototype into operation that does not run the x86 instruction set. The Sunway exascale computer prototype was developed by the National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering and Technology (NRCPC), the team that developed Sunway TaihuLight, crowned the world’s fastest computer two years in a row in 2016 and 2017.

The Sunway exascale computer prototype is very much like a concept car that can run on road,”said Yang Meihong, director of the National Supercomputing Center in Jinan. “We expect to build the exascale computer in the second half of 2020 or the first half of 2021,” said Yang.

Another prototype exascale supercomputer Tianhe-3 passed the acceptance tests on July 22. Its final version is expected to come out in 2020. The two prototypes marked a further step towards China’s successful development of the next-generation supercomputer.

After that, we do our Catch of the Week:

  • Rich points us to the story about Rigetti Computing’s pending 128-qubit quantum computer. The company has already built the 128-qubit processing chip, and is working to put all the pieces together to bring more power to researchers and developers. If successful, it could be the world’s most powerful quantum computer and it could have the chance to outpace traditional supercomputers. Meanwhile, you can already access IBMQ, D-Wave, and Chinese quantum machines in the cloud today.
  • Henry notes that one of the scary things to come out of the Black Hat conference is a new kind of microwave weapon for cooking your enemy from communication satellites.
  • Dan is wardriving in North Carolina in the town the Internet forgot.

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RFHPC202: A look at the IO500 Benchmark Suite with John Bent

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team talks to John Bent from the IO500 committee about why he and a team of I/O professionals created the IO500 benchmark suite. The second IO500 list was revealed at ISC 2018 in Frankfurt, Germany.

Following the success of the Top500 in collecting and analyzing historical trends in supercomputer technology and evolution, the IO500 was created in 2017 and published its first list at SC17. The need for such an initiative has long been known within High Performance Computing; however, defining appropriate benchmarks had long been challenging. Despite this challenge, the community, after long and spirited discussion, finally reached consensus on a suite of benchmarks and a metric for resolving the scores into a single ranking.

The multi-fold goals of the benchmark suite are as follows:

  1. Maximizing simplicity in running the benchmark suite
  2. Encouraging complexity in tuning for performance
  3. Allowing submitters to highlight their “hero run” performance numbers
  4. Forcing submitters to simultaneously report performance for challenging IO patterns.

Specifically, the benchmark suite includes a hero-run of both IOR and mdtest configured however possible to maximize performance and establish an upper-bound for performance. It also includes an IOR and mdtest run with highly prescribed parameters in an attempt to determine a lower-bound. Finally, it includes a namespace search as this has been determined to be a highly sought-after feature in HPC storage systems that has historically not been well-measured. Submitters are encouraged to share their tuning insights for publication.

Once again, we encourage you to submit (see http://io500.org/submission), to join our community, and to attend our BoF “The IO-500 and the Virtual Institute of I/O” at ISC 2018 where we will announce the second ever IO500 list. The current list includes results from BeeGFS, DataWarp, IME, Lustre, and Spectrum Scale. We hope that the next list has even more.

In this video from ISC 2018, John Bent and Jay Lofstead describe how the IO500 benchmark measures storage performance in HPC environments.

After that, we do our Catch of the Week:

  • Shahin notes that Apple has become the first Trillion-dollar company. He was also on a AI panel where they talked about how the HR department may soon become the Human and Machine Resources Department.
  • Henry points us to the story that DEFCON conference is hosting a contest for 8 year olds to hack government election sites.
  • Rich is taunting Dan with the impressive specifications on his new I9-powered MacBook Pro. There will be a render-off.
  • John Bent went to Google IO and says they were very excited about their new Gmail feature that will auto-compose emails for you. Rich wants to use it on illiterate PR people who think they can call him at 4 am.
  • Dan likes the story about the man who ran out of data on his phone and woke a sleeping couple in Palo Alto to demand they give him their WiFi password. The incident started a crime spree, as the man stole their kid’s bicycle to flee the scene.

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RFHPC201: A Look at Lincoln Labs new paper on Spectre/Meltdown Performance Hits

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at a new whitepaper from Lincoln Labs focused on the performance hits Spectre/Meltdown mitigations. The news is not good for HPC workloads.

After that, Shahin point us to the story about how DARPA just allocated $75 Million in awards for thinking-outside-the-box computing innovation. They call it the Electronics Resurgence Initiative and the list of projects funded includes something called Software Defined Hardware.

After that, we do the Catch of the Week:

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RFHPC200: A Look at China’s Three-Pronged Plan for Exascale

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team goes through a fascinating presentation that provides details on China’s Three-Pronged Plan for Exascale.

China may not be the first to Exascale, but they are building three divergent architectural prototypes that pave the way forward. We’ve got the details in this not-to-miss podcast.

We should probably note that this is our 200th Episode of Radio Free HPC. We would like to thank all 13 of our regular listeners for their continued support!

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RFHPC199: Trip Report from ISC 2018


In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team offers up a Trip Report from ISC 2018 in Frankfurt. It was a whirlwind week for news with a new USA machine on the TOP500, but the other big news centered around the convergence of HPC & AI. This common theme was all over the show floor, with use cases on display in dozens of exhibits.

Topics include:

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RFHPC198: The USA Returns to #1 on the TOP500

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team reviews the latest TOP500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers.

The TOP500 celebrates its 25th anniversary with a major shakeup at the top of the list. For the first time since November 2012, the US claims the most powerful supercomputer in the world, leading a significant turnover in which four of the five top systems were either new or substantially upgraded.

Highlights:

#1 is Summit, an IBM-built supercomputer now running at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), captured the number one spot with a performance of 122.3 petaflops on High Performance Linpack (HPL), the benchmark used to rank the TOP500 list. Summit has 4,356 nodes, each one equipped with two 22-core Power9 CPUs, and six NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs. The nodes are linked together with a Mellanox dual-rail EDR InfiniBand network.

#2 is Sunway TaihuLight, a system developed by China’s National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology (NRCPC) and installed at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi, drops to number two after leading the list for the past two years. Its HPL mark of 93 petaflops has remained unchanged since it came online in June 2016.

#3 is Sierra, a new system at the DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory took the number three spot, delivering 71.6 petaflops on HPL. Built by IBM, Sierra’s architecture is quite similar to that of Summit, with each of its 4,320 nodes powered by two Power9 CPUs plus four NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs and using the same Mellanox EDR InfiniBand as the system interconnect.

#4 is Tianhe-2A, also known as Milky Way-2A, moved down two notches into the number four spot, despite receiving a major upgrade that replaced its five-year-old Xeon Phi accelerators with custom-built Matrix-2000 coprocessors. The new hardware increased the system’s HPL performance from 33.9 petaflops to 61.4 petaflops, while bumping up its power consumption by less than four percent. Tianhe-2A was developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) and is installed at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou, China.

#5 The AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure (ABCI) is the fifth-ranked system on the list, with an HPL mark of 19.9 petaflops. The Fujitsu-built supercomputer is powered by 20-core Xeon Gold processors along with NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs. It’s installed in Japan at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST).

#6 is Piz Daint in Switzerland with 19.6 petaflops.

#7-10 Titan (17.6 petaflops), Sequoia (17.2 petaflops), Trinity (14.1 petaflops), and Cori (14.0 petaflops) move down to the number six through 10 spots, respectively.

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RFHPC197: Previewing ISC 2018 Student Cluster Competition & Ancillary Events

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team previews the ISC 2018 Student Cluster Competition.

“Now in its seventh year, the ISC-HPCAC Student Cluster Competition enables international STEM teams to take part in a real-time contest focused on advancing STEM disciplines and HPC skills development at ISC 2018 from June 25-27. To take home top honors, twelve teams will have the opportunity to showcase systems of their own design, adhering to strict power constraints and achieve the highest performance across a series of standard HPC benchmarks and applications.”

After that, Rich describes a number of ancillary events have been scheduled in Frankfurt.

Events in chronological order:

  • HP-CAST will take place June 22-23 at the Frankfurt Marriott. HP-CAST is an organization of HPE customers and partners who provide input to HP to increase the capabilities of HP solutions for large-scale, scientific and technical computing.
  • The Dell EMC HPC Community will get together for a half-day meeting on Sunday, June 24 at the Frankfurt Marriott.
  • DDN User Group will be held on Monday, June 25 from 9:00am – 12:30am at the Movenpick Hotel.
  • D-Wave Systems will host a seminar on Quantum Computing on Monday, June 25 starting at 2:00pm at the Frankfurt Marriott.
  • Intel Special Session: Dr. Raj Hazra, Corporate Vice President at Intel, will discuss AI & HPC emerging technologies that will accelerate discovery and innovation at 6:00 pm Monday, June 25 in the Panarama 2 room at the Frankfurt Messe.
  • The Hyperion Research  Breakfast Briefing will take place on Tuesday, June 26 at 7:45am at the Grandhotel Hessischer Hof.
  • Univa will host a Breakfast Seminar on Cloud HPC on Wednesday, June 27 at 8:00am at the Frankfurt Marriott.
  • The Women in HPC network is running a half day workshop on Thursday, June 28.

After that, we do our Catch of the Week:

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RFHPC196: A Closer Look at the Summit Supercomputer at ORNL

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at the new 200 Petaflop Summit supercomputer that was unveiled this week at ORNL. Powered by IBM POWER9 processors, 27,648 NVIDIA GPUs, and Mellanox InfiniBand, the Summit supercomputer is also the first Exaop AI system on the planet.

This massive machine, powered by 27,648 of our Volta GPUs, can perform more than three exaops, or three billion billion calculations per second,” writes Ian Buck on the NVIDIA blog. “That’s more than 100 times faster than Titan, previously the fastest U.S. supercomputer, completed just five years ago. And 95 percent of that computing power comes from GPUs. Built for the U.S. Department of Energy, this is a machine designed to tackle the grand challenges of our time. It will accelerate the work of the world’s best scientists in high-energy physics, materials discovery, healthcare, and more, with the ability to crank 200 petaflops of computing power to high precision scientific simulations.

IBM designed a whole new heterogeneous architecture for Summit that integrates the robust data analysis of powerful IBM POWER9 CPUs with the deep learning capabilities of GPUs,” writes Dr. John E. Kelly from IBM. “The result is unparalleled performance on critical new applications. And, IBM is selling this same technology in Summit to enterprises today.”

Summit takes GPU accelerated computing to the next level, with more computing power, more memory, an enormous high-performance file system, and fast data paths to tie it all together,” said James Hack, director of ORNL’s National Center for Computational Sciences. “That means researchers will be able to explore more complex phenomena at higher levels of fidelity in less time than with previous generations of supercomputer systems.”

After that, we do our Catch of the Week:

  • Dan points us to the story about why Microsoft sent a datacenter to the bottom of the sea. What they learn from the experience could pave the way for off-shore datacenters that are immune from natural disasters.
  • Rich likes the news about the SC18 Coffee Shop, which will provide an interactive exhibit space at the conference for the first time this year.
  • Shahin is impressed with with the Fujitsu Digital Annealer, which is reaching for quantum speeds through silicon technology.

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RFHPC195: New NVIDIA HGX-2 Reference Platform for HPC & AI

Dual GPU baseboard with 16 GPU fully connected at full NVLink speed of 300GB/s

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at the new NVIDIA HGX-2 Reference Platform for HPC & AI.

“The HGX-2 cloud server platform supports multi-precision computing, supporting high-precision calculations using FP64 and FP32 for scientific computing and simulations, while also enabling FP16 and Int8 for AI training and inference. This unprecedented versatility meets the requirements of the growing number of applications that combine HPC with AI. HGX-2 is a part of the larger family of NVIDIA GPU-Accelerated Server Platforms, an ecosystem of qualified server classes addressing a broad array of AI, HPC and accelerated computing workloads with optimal performance.”

After that, we do our Catch of the Week:

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RFHPC194: Rationalizing GPDR Regulations

In this podcast, the Radio Free HPC team looks at ramifications for the European GPDR laws, which went into effect May 25, 2018.

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the most important change in data privacy regulation in 20 years - we’re here to make sure you’re prepared.

After that, we do our Catch of the Week:

In this NSFW video, comedian Jordan Peele demonstrates how deepfake technology can put words into anyone’s mouth, including our former President.

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