1.1 quintillion operations per second: the United States has the fastest supercomputer in the world

Enlarge / Systems engineer Matt Ezell, system lead for the Frontier supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The United States has regained the top spot in the global supercomputer rankings with the exascale Frontier system from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee.

The Frontier system’s 1.102 exaflop/s score makes it “the most powerful supercomputer ever” and “the first true exascale machine,” the Top 500 project said Monday in the announcement of his last ranking. Exaflop/s (or exaflops) is short for 1 quintillion floating point operations per second.

Frontier was more than twice as fast as a Japanese system that placed second in the rankings, based on the LINPACK benchmark that measures the “performance of a system dedicated to solving a dense system of linear equations”.

“Based on the latest HPE Cray EX235a architecture and powered by 2GHz AMD EPYC 64C processors, the system has 8,730,112 total cores, a power efficiency of 52.23 gigaflops/watt, and relies on Gigabit Ethernet for data transfer. data,” the Top 500 group said. Frontier “is currently being integrated and tested at ORNL in Tennessee, USA, where it will be operated by the Department of Energy,” the group said.

Although China has also broken the exaflop barrier, the US system is the first to demonstrate the speed of official Top 500 testing.

Frontier also tops the efficiency rankings

Frontier was also the second most efficient supercomputer in the new Green 500 ranking. The top spot in the Green 500 was taken by a smaller version of the Frontier system at Oak Ridge, one with 120,832 cores instead of the exascale system’s 8.7 million.

The previous supercomputer, the Fugaku system from the RIKEN Center for Computational Science in Kobe, Japan, took second place in the Top 500 with a score of 442 petaflops/s. While the Fugaku system has a theoretical peak greater than 1 exaflop/s, Frontier is the only system that has demonstrated this in Top 500 tests, according to the Top 500 announcement. ORNL said the theoretical peak of Frontier is 2 exaflop/s.

Fugaku was in first place starting with the Ranking June 2020 and remained in the lead in November 2020, June 2021 and November 2021. The United States had last held the top spot in the semi-annual rankings in November 2019 when Oak Ridge’s IBM-built Summit system posted a score of 148.6 petaflop/s.

The DOE Exascale Project

The DOE in 2018 announcement a $1.8 billion project to develop at least two exascale supercomputers to support a range of scientific research.

“Frontier’s delivery, installation and testing work began during the COVID-19 pandemic, as shutdowns around the world strained international supply chains,” ORNL said. said this week. “More than 100 members of a public-private team worked around the clock, from sourcing millions of components, delivering system parts on time, to installing and painstakingly testing 74 HPE Cray EX supercomputer cabinets, which include more than 9,400 AMD-powered nodes and 90 miles of network cables.”

Researchers “will have access to the fully operational Frontier system later this year,” said ORNL Associate Laboratory Director Jeff Nichols, adding that it will be available to “scientists and engineers around the world.”

“Frontier users will model the entire lifetime of a nuclear reactor, uncover the genetics of disease, and leverage recent developments in science and technology to further integrate artificial intelligence into data analysis. , modeling and simulation,” the ORNL also said. said.

HPCwire coverage from the Top 500 list provided a more detailed description of Frontier’s composition:

Frontier consists of 74 cabinets, each weighing 8,000 pounds. 9,408 HPE Cray EX nodes are spread across these cabinets, with each node powered by an AMD “Trento” 7A53 Epyc CPU and four AMD Instinct MI250X GPUs (totaling 37,632 GPUs on the system). The system has 9.2 petabytes of memory, split equally between HBM and DDR4, and it uses the HPE Slingshot-11 network. It is supported by 37 petabytes of node-local storage in addition to 716 petabytes of center-wide storage. The system is 100% liquid cooled with hot water (85°F) and, in terms of space, the final Frontier system occupies 372 square meters.

HP Company bought supercomputing company Cray in 2019.

China would have exascale supercomputers

There are indications that China has two exascale supercomputers. But the operators “of these systems have not submitted test results for evaluation” in the Top 500 ranking, possibly due to “tensions between the United States and China”, The New York Times wrote.

Officially, the highest ranked Chinese system is the sixth fastest in the Top 500. This system, known as Sunway TaihuLight, has been ranked #1 four times in a row in 2016 and 2017 but has not updated his score since. Another Chinese system called Tianhe-2A held the top spot from 2013 to 2015 and is now ninth.

“There are rumors that China has something” with exascale power, but “there is nothing official”, Jack Dongarra, a computer scientist who designed Linpack, told The New York Times. Dongarra is a professor at the University of Tennessee and holds a position at ORNL.

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