Getting Exascale Right, Not First

The path to exascale computing hasn’t been an easy one. It has had to face a daunting set of challenges in energy efficiency, application parallelism, and system reliability, just to name a few.  The difficulties in bringing the hardware and software up to this level is considerable, but there is a more fundamental challenge at the heart of exascale: doing the necessary work of building an ecosystem that will last for a decade or more, not just for a handful stunt machines.

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News

IBM Finds Killer App for TrueNorth Neuromorphic Chip

TrueNorth, IBM’s brain-like microprocessor, has been found to be exceptionally proficient at inference work for deep neural networks. In particular, the chip has demonstrated it’s especially good at image recognition, being able accurately classify such data much more efficiently, from an energy perspective, than traditional processor architectures, suggesting new applications in mobile computing, IoT, robotics, autonomous cars, and HPC.

British AI Startup Buys GPU Supercomputer

BenevolentAI, a London-based artificial intelligence company specializing in health and bioscience applications, has acquired NVIDIA’s DGX-1, a deep learning system accelerated by eight Tesla P100 GPUs. The company plans to use the $129,000 machine to advance its work in drug discovery and related biomedical research.

Machine Learning Proves Faster Than Quantum Mechanical Calculations in Discovery of New Compounds

Researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland have used machine learning to predict the thermodynamic characteristics of 90 new mineral compounds with potential commercial use. The machine learning models were able to predict the chemical stability of all possible iterations of a particular type of class of crystals several orders of magnitude faster than if the researchers had relied on quantum mechanical calculations.

TACC Flips the Switch on Solar-Powered Supercomputer

The Texas Advanced Computing Center in Austin has installed the world’s largest solar-powered HPC system. The 400 teraflop supercomputer, known as Hikari, is an HPE Apollo 800 cluster that uses technology supplied by Japanese green energy specialist NTT FACILITIES. In addition to taking advantage of Austin’s abundant sunshine, the power setup also employs high voltage direct power (HVDC) to further reduce energy consumption.

Talking Machines Just Took a Big Step Forward

In these days of Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Now, AI-based speech generation has become a commonplace technology in everyday life.  But when machines talk to us, it’s still obvious that we are listening to a computer, and not a human voice.  Thanks to new machine learning technology from Alphabet's DeepMind, that may soon change.

Exascale Computing Project Turns On Application Development

Last week the US DOE awarded $39.8 million worth of funding for more than a dozen application development projects aimed at exascale computing. A total of 15 proposals were funded, with an additional 7 receiving seed funding. The awards represent the first significant sum of federal money directed at developing exascale applications in the US.

Japan Runs into Detour on Exascale Roadmap

The rumors about a setback in the development of Japan’s first exascale system have apparently been borne out.  This week at the HPC User Forum in Austin, Texas, Dr. Yutaka Ishikawa, project lead for the Post-K supercomputer at RIKEN, admitted the effort will be delayed by one to two years.

Software Investment Firm Buys Adaptive Computing

ALA Services LLC has acquired long-time HPC player Adaptive Computing for an undisclosed sum of money. Adaptive will be run as an independent entity under the new ownership and retain the management structure of the current regime, including CEO Marty Smuin. More News

In Depth

Aquila Takes Wraps Off Liquid-Cooled HPC Server

Aquila, a system provider based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has unveiled a new liquid-cooled server platform that offers one of the densest and most energy-efficient architectures in the market. The platform, known as Aquarius, uses a patented warm water cooling technology along with rack-level power distribution to minimize energy consumption and allow for very high levels of computational density.

NVIDIA Bolsters Deep Learning Portfolio with New Pascal GPUs

NVIDIA has unveiled the Tesla P4 and P40, two new GPUs aimed at the very latest AI machinery. The processors are based on the company’s Pascal architecture and incorporate new features aimed at deep learning inferencing work in areas like image and speech recognition, language translation, and recommendation engines. The announcement was made at NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference taking place in Beijing, China this week. 

IBM Raises Performance Bar with New Dual-CPU/Quad-GPU Server

IBM has unveiled what is probably the most powerful server the company has ever offered and one of the most computationally dense on the planet. The new S822LC for High Performance Computing, as it is called, is equipped with two IBM Power8 processors and four of NVIDIA’s latest Tesla P100 GPUs. As such, IBM is first OEM to go to market with Pascal GPU-accelerated servers incorporating NVLink technology.

Google Forges Path to Quantum Computing

Over the years, there have been a torrent of “breakthroughs” in quantum computing research. But for the first time since in many years, the technology looks to be on the verge of fulfilling its promises. Thanks to an ambitious effort at Google, quantum computing may become a reality within the next two or three years. A report at the New Scientist unravels Googles plans to commercialize the technology and attain what the company is calling “quantum supremacy.”

More In Depth News

This Week in HPC

Japan Slips Exascale Schedule and New Products From DDN and Aquila

Addison Snell and Michael Feldman analyze this week's top stories in HPC.

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Top 10

1
Sunway TaihuLight - Sunway MPP, Sunway SW26010 260C 1.45GHz, Sunway
NRCPC
2
Tianhe-2 (MilkyWay-2) - TH-IVB-FEP Cluster, Intel Xeon E5-2692 12C 2.200GHz, TH Express-2, Intel Xeon Phi 31S1P
NUDT
3
Titan - Cray XK7 , Opteron 6274 16C 2.200GHz, Cray Gemini interconnect, NVIDIA K20x
Cray Inc.
4
Sequoia - BlueGene/Q, Power BQC 16C 1.60 GHz, Custom
IBM
5
K computer, SPARC64 VIIIfx 2.0GHz, Tofu interconnect
Fujitsu
6
Mira - BlueGene/Q, Power BQC 16C 1.60GHz, Custom
IBM
7
Trinity - Cray XC40, Xeon E5-2698v3 16C 2.3GHz, Aries interconnect
Cray Inc.
8
Piz Daint - Cray XC30, Xeon E5-2670 8C 2.600GHz, Aries interconnect , NVIDIA K20x
Cray Inc.
9
Hazel Hen - Cray XC40, Xeon E5-2680v3 12C 2.5GHz, Aries interconnect
Cray Inc.
10
Shaheen II - Cray XC40, Xeon E5-2698v3 16C 2.3GHz, Aries interconnect
Cray Inc.