HLRN Brings Advanced Performance to HPC

HLRN chose Intel® Xeon® Platinum 9200 processors to meet their increasingly diverse needs for HPC workloads.

Executive Summary
HLRN supercomputers are used by over 100 universities and over 120 research institutions enabling exploration of the many frontiers of scientific research to help unlock a better future. The selection of Intel’s latest processor technology to power the newest HLRN supercomputer came after detailed testing to find the best solution. Prof. Dr. Ramin Yahyapour of Göttingen University explains “the expectation for HLRN’s supercomputer acquisition was to have a significant step up in computer power for new experiments”.

Challenge
“Science in general is getting more compute and data intensive. This means that having larger systems available translates into an ability for the scientists to do better work. That’s why HLRN is crucial for scientific research,” says Prof. Dr. Ramin Yahyapour.

HLRN lays claim to being a very demanding client—HLRN has substantial expertise from their prior deployments of three supercomputer systems. Prof. Alexander Reinefeld from Zuse Institute Berlin emphasizes that “We are expecting the highest performance for all benchmark applications. Our benchmark suite was carefully chosen so that each code challenges specific parts of the system: CPU, communication network, and parallel I/O. We are not looking for peak theoretical performance—we demand real system performance which makes it more complicated for vendors to optimize their infrastructure for our applications. That meant that our selection of the right processor and the right interconnect are all crucial for the overall performance”.

As with most research today, the need for more real-world computer capacity stems from the reality that simulations of many kinds are critical to the researchers. Faster computers are primarily used to increase the simulation in size and resolution—with the expectation of finding new discoveries.

“We demand real system performance… that meant that our selection of the right processor and the right interconnect are all crucial for the overall performance.” — Prof. Reinefeld

Solution
HLRN procured a new supercomputer with just under a quarter of a million cores. The Intel® Xeon® Platinum 9200 processors (from the 2nd Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor family) will serve as the “right processors” for HLRN. For the “right interconnect,” HLRN chose Intel® Omni-Path Architecture (Intel® OPA). The system is produced by Atos (formerly Bull Computing) and will be physically split between the Zuse-Institute Berlin (ZIB) and the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (University of Göttingen). These sites have previously used this split system model, and already have in place a dedicated, redundant, 10 gigabit, fiber optic cable spanning the more than 170 miles between Berlin and Göttingen.

Researchers at ZIB will use HLRN-IV for fluid dynamics, including developing turbulence models for aircraft wings.

Result
HLRN has announced that the new system, HLRN-IV, will be approximately six times as fast as the prior systems—offering 16 PetaFLOP/s performance.1 The excitement among researchers is palpable, and the list of research being done is mind-boggling. Prof. Reinefeld summed up his excitement saying, “It’s a great system. Our users will benefit right away from the more powerful system without needing to change their code. The homogeneous architecture of the 2nd Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors will provide true performance portability, which is a crucial aspect for our researchers in order to quickly benefit from the new, more powerful system”.

Key research areas within HLRN include:

  • Earth System Sciences - Which includes work on climate change. Subjects include the dynamics of oceans, rain forests, glaciers, Antarctic phytoplankton (microalgae), mineral dust cycles, and the stratosphere.
  • Fluid Dynamics - Which includes turbulence models for ship turbines, wind turbines, and aircraft wings. These models are notorious for needing enormous compute power—the acquisition of HLRN-IV will enable the running of more fine-grained turbulent simulations on large systems such as wind flow through a city, or across a blade on a turbine. Modeling complete cities will allow studies in how new buildings would change wind flow, and other factors that impact various microclimates within the city. This may lead to new design aspects to enhance city life. Other researchers hope to gain understanding that will pave the way for future high-lift commercial aircraft. Other researchers are hoping to save lives and ships by studying liquefaction of solid bulk cargo (such as iron ore or nickel ore). Failure to properly deal with this issue has led to the complete loss of at least seven vessels around the world in the past decade.
  • Healthcare - Is a broad area of research, and HLRN researchers hope to help in many ways including improving medical care at home. Gaining a better understanding of illness and treatment of diseases stands to impact us all. Research includes simulations of drug efficacy, interactions, and side-effects. Enormous compute power allows leading researchers in these fields to start exploring the “personal medicine” aspects of these simulations, not just the average effects on a general population.

At the University of Göttingen, research areas include collaborative projects on cellular and molecular machines.

High Performance Across Diverse Research
In terms of science communities, HLRN has to support all types of workloads for their many researchers. Therefore, HLRN systems need to have the characteristics of a general purpose system but still be of the highest performance. Their final choice had no accelerators.

“Although we looked at accelerators, including GPUs, as part of the procurement process, there was no advantage with regards to obtaining the highest performance in using GPUs or other accelerators in the system.”— Dr. Thomas Steinke, Head of ZIB Supercomputing

HLRN’s benchmarks are open and include benchmarks that can take advantage of GPUs. HLRN found that any advantage in performance on some workloads are insufficient, when considering the reduction in general purpose compute capacity, or additional costs involved. A homogeneous system based on the 2nd Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors proved itself to be the best choice for the diverse needs of the HLRN scientists and researchers.

Beating Back Amdahl’s Law
Ever mindful of Amdahl’s Law, Dr. Thomas Steinke is fond of emphasizing the use of fast algorithms for fast computers. He shared that “The pressure of optimizing code for scaling on a node is less because of the high real-world performance of the 2nd Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors compared to previous many-core architectures”.

The 2nd Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor family offers an outstanding choice for high performance computing (HPC) and helps programmers cope with Amdahl’s Law.

“Our users will benefit right away from the more powerful system without needing to change their code.”— Prof. Reinefeld

Future of AI in HPC
AI and Machine Learning stand to impact all areas of HLRN research. A hot area of interest is the blending of machine learning and AI techniques with traditional simulation capabilities. While promising results have been reported, there is much work to be done. The exploration of algorithms is likely to take researchers in many directions, and this need for flexibility is one reason HLRN chose 2nd Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors to support their next generation of research.

Avoid Data Movement
Prof. Yahyapour emphasized that “the CPU is quite good for artificial intelligence and machine learning. That’s an area where we see more need from our researchers. Traditionally they were not so much into data intensive work but that’s something we see as a new trend for the new system that will also be of particular interest”.

Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions 512 (Intel® AVX-512) proved to be the logical choice to help increase HLRN’s compute power, and with the addition of Intel® Deep Learning Boost (Intel® DL Boost) to augment AVX-512, offered outstanding performance for the new frontier of HPC applications.

The ability to compute data where it is, for all types of algorithms, saves data movement. That represents a boost for compute capacity, and less wasted energy. A double win!

When exploring new algorithms, and new application techniques, nothing is more important than the flexibility of a system. The 2nd Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor delivers high performance coupled with the flexibility needed to meet future challenges.

Explore Related Intel® Products

Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors

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Intel® Deep Learning Boost (Intel® DL Boost)

Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors take embedded AI performance to the next level with Intel® Deep Learning Boost (Intel® DL Boost).

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Intel® Omni-Path Architecture (Intel® OPA)

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Notices and Disclaimers

Intel® technologies’ features and benefits depend on system configuration and may require enabled hardware, software or service activation. Performance varies depending on system configuration. No computer system can be absolutely secure. Check with your system manufacturer or retailer or learn more at https://www.intel.de. // Software and workloads used in performance tests may have been optimized for performance only on Intel® microprocessors. Performance tests, such as SYSmark and MobileMark, are measured using specific computer systems, components, software, operations and functions. Any change to any of those factors may cause the results to vary. You should consult other information and performance tests to assist you in fully evaluating your contemplated purchases, including the performance of that product when combined with other products. For more complete information visit https://www.intel.de/benchmarks . // Performance results are based on testing as of the date set forth in the configurations and may not reflect all publicly available security updates. See configuration disclosure for details. No product or component can be absolutely secure. // Cost reduction scenarios described are intended as examples of how a given Intel®-based product, in the specified circumstances and configurations, may affect future costs and provide cost savings. Circumstances will vary. Intel does not guarantee any costs or cost reduction. // Intel does not control or audit third-party benchmark data or the web sites referenced in this document. You should visit the referenced web site and confirm whether referenced data are accurate. // In some test cases, results have been estimated or simulated using internal Intel analysis or architecture simulation or modeling, and provided to you for informational purposes. Any differences in your system hardware, software or configuration may affect your actual performance.

Produkt- und Leistungsinformationen

1

Das vorherige System HLRN-III besteht aus zwei Komplexen, die sich am ZIB in Berlin und an der Leibniz Universität IT-Services (LUIS) in Hannover befinden und durch eine spezielle 10GigE-Faseroptik-Verbindung für HLRN gekoppelt wurden, um eine sogenannte Single-System-Ansicht zu ermöglichen. Insgesamt gibt es zwei Phasen, folgend die Details zu den Rechenknoten: Phase eins enthielt zwei Cray XC30-Computer, jeweils mit 744 Rechenknoten mit insgesamt 1488 Dual-Socket Intel® Xeon® Prozessor E5-2695v2 mit insgesamt 93 TB Hauptspeicher, die über ein schnelles Cray Aries Netzwerk mit Dragonfly-Topologie verbunden sind. In der zweiten Phase wurden 2064 Intel® Xeon® Prozessor E5-2680 v3 Rechenknoten mit 85248 Rechenkernen mit 1872 Rechenknoten in Berlin und 1680 Rechenknoten in Hanover hinzugefügt; insgesamt 2,7 PetaFlops / s Spitzenleistung und 222 TB erweiterter Hauptspeicher.