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Hardware

US Once Again Boasts the World's Fastest Supercomputer (zdnet.com) 85

The US Department of Energy on Friday unveiled Summit, a supercomputer capable of performing 200 quadrillion calculations per second, or 200 petaflops. Its performance should put it at the top of the list of the world's fastest supercomputers, which is currently dominated by China. From a report (thanks to reader cb_abq for the tip): Summit, housed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), was built for AI. IBM designed a new heterogeneous architecture for Summit, which combines IBM POWER9 CPUs with Nvidia GPUs. It has approximately 4,600 nodes, with six Nvidia Volta Tensor Core GPUs per node -- that's more than 27,000. The last US supercomputer to top the list of the world's fastest was Titan, in 2012. ORNL, which houses Titan as well, says Summit will deliver more than five times the computational performance of Titan's 18,688 nodes.

US Once Again Boasts the World's Fastest Supercomputer

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  • ... a Beowulf cluster of these.

    • Wow, doesn't that bring back the memories? It's like Ogg hit me with an Open Source CD or something.

  • This is kinda silly. The fastest supercomputer is going to be whomever has built the newest one. Moore's law is slowing down a tiny bit, but it's still going. Someone spending $100,000,000 on a supercomputer today is going to have a slower machine than someone building one for the same amount in a year's time.

    • by ranton ( 36917 )

      This is kinda silly. The fastest supercomputer is going to be whomever has built the newest one. Moore's law is slowing down a tiny bit, but it's still going. Someone spending $100,000,000 on a supercomputer today is going to have a slower machine than someone building one for the same amount in a year's time.

      While I agree it is silly, the top 10 supercomputers are not in chronological order. Their commission dates and ranking are listed below. The top 5 newest supercomputers in this list are #1, 3, 4, 8, 9 in PFlops. Considering the 5 newest supercomputers average a rank of #5 and the 5 oldest supercomputers on the top 10 list have an average rank of #6, there is little correlation between age and computational power among the top machines. That has far more to do with what the machines were built to do and wha

      • While I agree it is silly, the top 10 supercomputers are not in chronological order. Their commission dates and ranking are listed below. The top 5 newest supercomputers in this list are #1, 3, 4, 8, 9 in PFlops.

        But he said if they spent the same amount next year it would be faster, which is true. We don't know the prices of the machines you listed.

    • The fastest supercomputer is going to be whomever has built the newest one.

      Not necessarily. IBM is also building a newer . . . slower . . . supercomputer for the DoE:

      Summit is one of two of these next-generation supercomputers that IBM is building for the DEO. The second one is Sierra, which will be housed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Sierra, which is also scheduled to go online this year, is less powerful at an expected 125 petaflops, but both systems are significantly more powerful than any other machine in the DoE’s arsenal right now.

    • Nobody is going to win in Somalia, that's for sure, but it still takes tech-know how, not just $$$ and timing. HPC is NOT like building a gaming PC, man.
    • Someone spending $100,000,000 on a ANYTHING today is going to have a slower machine than someone building one for the same amount in a year's time.

      Fixed that for you. You could say the same about anything really, because everything is getting faster, smaller, lighter, etc.

    • Quite a few systems lasted more than six months at number one [top500.org]. among them

      ASCI Red
      Earth Simulator
      BlueGene/L
      Numerical Wind Tunnel
      Roadrunner
      Tianhe-2
      Sunway

      And some computers were only on top for an instant.

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      Supercomputers these days are superscalar, so you can add as many racks and shelves of nodes as you have space and money for. When they do upgrades, they just swap out the old slowest nodes and add new nodes with the faster CPUs and GPU's.

  • If you had access to a computer this powerful, what would you do with it? just asking...

    • If you had access to a computer this powerful, what would you do with it? just asking...

      . . . in other news . . . the DoE has just announced that they own 51% of the Bitcoin Universe . . .

      • Ssshhhiiiiittttt. Don't put it past the Gov to pull a stunt like that.

        Step 1. Print money via the Treasury in addition to spending tax payer money.
        Step 2. Build supercomputer
        Step 3. Mine Crypto Currency (Bitcoin)
        Step 4. Sell said Crypto Currency.
        Step 5. Recycle the money back into the Gov.

    • There are several very useful for humanity topics, requiring lots of calculations:
      - fusion, whether for tokamacs or stellarators
      - proteins for medicine
      - properties of alloys
      - PI (to see if Carl Sagan was joking or was he on to something ;)
    • I'd rent it out. Sell processing time on it. How else would one pay the power bills? You can rent a lot of processing power on Amazon, but you can't rent a supercomputer-grade high performance interconnect between your nodes. Not from them, anyway.

      I'd offer a special service for non-profit customers: They can pay power costs only, but then they only get to use idle resources. Commercial-rate customers take priority - got to pay the bills somehow.

      • You can rent a lot of processing power on Amazon, but you can't rent a supercomputer-grade high performance interconnect between your nodes. Not from them, anyway.

        https://aws.amazon.com/hpc/ [amazon.com]

        • by Shinobi ( 19308 )

          The bandwidth in Amazon's HPC nodes is sort of ok compared to some cluster configurations, but the latency still leaves a fair bit to be desired. Last I tested, 6 months ago, the AWS HPC networking still had a 6 times higher latency on real world tasks I tested it with, compared to Infiniband equipped nodes(depending on the node hardware in question, GPU's might even talk over Infiniband to another GPU inside the node, if it's on another PCIe root complex, because it's faster, and I didn't receive an answer

      • by kriston ( 7886 )

        Azure is competing in this space along with AWS.

        I am shocked that these firms don't yet offer to bill by CPU usage. I come from the end of the age when CPU cycles were charged per contract and were planned using budgets. It wasn't for rationing but to help pay for the resources.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Rent it to the IRS and DoJ.
      Ensure every cyber currency in the USA was interacted with using the big gov super computer.
      When the cyber criminals want to cash out their digital currency collection, the US gov is ready to help with that transaction.
  • Anyone who thinks the USA is down and out and can't win at tech needs to refactor their bullshit. The Chinese should stick to making cheap flip flops and Christmas lights for Wal-Mart. Ha-fucking-Ha!
  • How is this any different than a data center of the same scale? I'm not even sure it has a higher bisection bandwidth.

    Okay—I am sure it will have way lower latency between nodes at any equivalent bandwidth tier. But unless you're planning to aggressively exploit that, it's just your garden variety datacenter make more expensive and less flexible.

    1977 Heinz Ketchup Commercial "Anticipation" [youtube.com]

    Heck of a lot of money, Brownie, for less ketchup.

    • How is this any different than a data center of the same scale?

      High speed interconnects, and much more computing power, mostly in the GPUs that many headless data center servers don't even have.

      I am sure it will have way lower latency between nodes at any equivalent bandwidth tier.

      Duh.

      But unless you're planning to aggressively exploit that ...

      There are plenty of critical applications that benefit from fast interconnects.

  • How about making a Beowulf cluster of those? Oh, what a minute. ;-/

    LoB
  • by iamhassi ( 659463 ) on Friday June 08, 2018 @05:19PM (#56752420) Journal
    My Intel desktop has the performance of a 90's supercomputer. Strange to think the best technology available to the world's top scientists in the 90’s now sits on my desk
  • The supercomputers are measured using Linpack. This is a simple benchmark and can be done efficiently by large number of dumb cores in parallel. Though some workloads mimic Linpack, most workloads don't, so Linpack is not a good measure of supercomputer speed. Another benchmark which is gaining momentum nowadays is HPCG (see http://www.hpcg-benchmark.org/ [hpcg-benchmark.org] ) which measures more broader performance and it shows quite a bit different picture. The top is still the 2011 K Computer. Some NEC computers which don't

  • by TeknoHog ( 164938 ) on Friday June 08, 2018 @06:16PM (#56752716) Homepage Journal

    ..the fastest supercomputer is running a Finnish-born OS. So I don't care about the nationality of whoever assembled the machine, Finland wins anyway ;)

    BTW, a fun detail from the article that should really have been included in the summary:

    James Hack, director of ORNL's National Center for Computational Sciences

  • by kriston ( 7886 ) on Saturday June 09, 2018 @12:47AM (#56754076) Homepage Journal

    IBM POWER and PowerPC get short shrift.

    We can only imagine how many fewer datacenters we'd have if these pure RISC implementations with superior multiprocessing capability were used instead of x86-64 emulating crusty old instruction sets.

  • The story has focused so far on how the US got the #1 crown back. But the real story is about how we can now run the fastest and largest AI jobs. Because this IBM supercomputer has 27K+ GPUs, it can run massive deep learning jobs. IBM has been very focused on this deep learning space with their TensorFlow-based open-source PowerAI software offering [ibm.com].

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