Exponential change continues to arrive in computing, and even more will arrive in 2017. For an example, consider the facts set out in last week’s press release from Nvidia, a maker of GPUs that are key parts of faster super-computing. The bottom line is the announcement of 2017 delivery and installation of supercomputers 3x faster than today’s crazy fast machines. Not 30% faster, but rather 3x! Exponential change is hard for humans to grasp, but it’s very helpful to appreciate the scale and pace of change. Consider Ray Kurzweil’s writing back in 2003:
“We’re entering an age of acceleration. The models underlying society at every level, which are largely based on a linear model of change, are going to have to be redefined. Because of the explosive power of exponential growth, the 21st century will be equivalent to 20,000 years of progress at today’s rate of progress; organizations have to be able to redefine themselves at a faster and faster pace.”
SANTA CLARA, CA–(Marketwired – Nov 14, 2014) – The U.S. Department of Energy today unveiled plans to build two GPU-accelerated supercomputers — expected to deliver at least three-times greater performance than today’s most powerful system — which will move the world closer to the long-held goal of exascale computing.
The supercomputers, to be installed in 2017, will be based on next-generation IBM POWER servers with NVIDIA® Tesla® GPU accelerators and NVIDIA NVLink™ high-speed GPU interconnect technology.
The “Summit” system at Oak Ridge National Laboratory will be capable of delivering 150 to 300 peak petaflops, and be used for open science. Delivering performance well in excess of 100 peak petaflops, the “Sierra” system will be a key element of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s national nuclear security mission.
They will be considerably faster than the U.S.’s current speed champ, Oak Ridge’s “Titan,” which delivers 27 peak petaflops, as well as the world’s fastest, Tianhe-2 at China’s National Super Computer Center, in Guangzhou, which delivers 55 peak petaflops.
Visit the NVIDIA website for more information and a video about these new systems.
“Today’s science is tomorrow’s technology,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO and co-founder of NVIDIA. “Scientists are tackling massive challenges from quantum to global to galactic scales. Their work relies on increasingly more powerful supercomputers. Through the invention of GPU acceleration, we have paved the path to exascale supercomputing — giving scientists a tool for unimaginable discoveries.”
The U.S. is investing in Summit and Sierra to achieve breakthroughs that lead to greater U.S. energy independence, new approaches to curbing climate change, dramatic improvements in fuel efficiency, natural disaster prediction, safer nuclear material storage, economic competitiveness, and more.
The systems represent the first major milestone in the ongoing partnership between IBM and NVIDIA. They build upon the work of the OpenPOWER Foundation, an open development community formed to develop next-generation computing solutions for high performance computing and enterprise data center customers.
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New Technologies Hasten Exascale Computing
The supercomputing community has for many years worked toward building exascale systems, which can perform a quintillion — a billion billion or 1018 — floating point calculations per second, known as FLOPS. A FLOP is equivalent to a single mathematical calculation, like multiplying two numbers together.
Summit and Sierra will be the next major step on the path to reaching exascale computing levels by virtue of a number of breakthrough technologies.
One is the NVIDIA NVLink high-speed GPU interconnect, which will be integrated into NVIDIA GPUs and IBM POWER CPUs powering the new systems. NVLink allows GPUs and CPUs to share data five to 12 times faster than today, and is designed to ultimately enable supercomputers that are 50 to 100 times faster than today’s fastest systems.
The systems will also feature NVIDIA’s future generation GPU architecture, Volta™, which will deliver considerably higher performance than the company’s current Maxwell™ architecture and subsequent Pascal™ design. Delivering significantly higher levels of computational performance than anything available today, NVIDIA GPUs will provide Summit and Sierra with more than 90 percent of the peak floating point processing capability.
“Our users have the most complex scientific problems and need exceptionally powerful computers to meet national goals,” said Buddy Bland, project director of the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “The projected performance of Summit would not have been possible without the combination of these technologies, which will give our users an exceptionally powerful tool to accomplish these goals.”
Summit to Accelerate Open Science Computing
Summit, like Titan, will be dedicated to open science, meaning that researchers worldwide will have the opportunity to apply for time on the system. It will also raise the bar for energy-efficient computing, providing five to 10 times higher performance than Titan, while using only 10 percent more power.
Sierra to Bolster National Security
Sierra will deliver five to 10 times higher compute performance than Lawrence Livermore’s current fastest system, “Sequoia,” which delivers 20 petaflops. It will be used for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s program to ensure the safety, security and effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear deterrent without testing, and nonproliferation efforts to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction worldwide.
Exascale Computing’s Potential and Challenge
Exascale supercomputers are anticipated to further discovery into broad areas of science, engineering and industry, such as enabling work on cures for disease, providing insights into the human brain, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change, and increasing our understanding of the origins of the universe.
However, a fundamental challenge in attaining exascale systems is achieving higher levels of performance while minimizing energy consumption, a task GPU accelerators are particularly well suited for. An exascale system built with NVIDIA’s latest GPU accelerators would consume five times less power than an x86 CPU-based system, enabling system designers to deliver extremely higher levels of energy-efficient performance.
About the NVIDIA Tesla Accelerated Computing Platform
The Tesla Accelerated Computing Platform is designed from the ground up for power-efficient, high performance computing, computational science, supercomputing, enterprise, complex data analytics and machine learning applications. It delivers dramatically higher performance and energy efficiency than a CPU-only approach. The platform deeply integrates the world’s fastest GPU accelerators, advanced system management features, accelerated communication technology and NVIDIA CUDA®, the world’s most pervasive parallel computing model.
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Since 1993, NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) has pioneered the art and science of visual computing. The company’s technologies are transforming a world of displays into a world of interactive discovery — for everyone from gamers to scientists, and consumers to enterprise customers. More information at http://nvidianews.nvidia.com/ and http://blogs.nvidia.com/.
Certain statements in this press release including, but not limited to, statements as to: the performance, effect and benefits of NVIDIA Tesla GPU accelerators, NVLink and NVIDIA GPUs are forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause results to be materially different than expectations. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially include: global economic conditions; our reliance on third parties to manufacture, assemble, package and test our products; the impact of technological development and competition; development of new products and technologies or enhancements to our existing product and technologies; market acceptance of our products or our partners’ products; design, manufacturing or software defects; changes in consumer preferences or demands; changes in industry standards and interfaces; unexpected loss of performance of our products or technologies when integrated into systems; as well as other factors detailed from time to time in the reports NVIDIA files with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, including its Form 10-Q for the quarterly period ended July 27, 2014. Copies of reports filed with the SEC are posted on the company’s website and are available from NVIDIA without charge. These forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and speak only as of the date hereof, and, except as required by law, NVIDIA disclaims any obligation to update these forward-looking statements to reflect future events or circumstances.
© 2014 NVIDIA Corporation. All rights reserved. NVIDIA, the NVIDIA logo, Tesla, CUDA, NVLink, Maxwell, Pascal and Volta are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of NVIDIA Corporation in the U.S. and other countries. Other company and product names may be trademarks of the respective companies with which they are associated. Features, pricing, availability and specifications are subject to change without notice.