In one of the stranger bits of news, Lenovo and Intel announced a collaboration for HPC and AI. This is the same Intel that currently powers Lenovo’s Top500 HPC efforts. We see this as a continued collaboration likely with Intel extending marketing funds to Lenovo rather than a net-new customer win.
Lenovo and Intel HPC Pact
Here are the details from the press release spanning three areas:
Systems and solutions: The collaboration brings together the best of Lenovo’s portfolio, including Lenovo TruScale Infrastructure™, and Intel’s leading-edge technologies, including Intel® Xe computing architecture; Intel® Optane™ DC persistent memory; Intel® oneAPI® programming framework; and both current and future generations of Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, the only CPUs with the built-in AI acceleration of Intel® Deep Learning Boost. This partnership will be critical as breakthrough HPC and AI technologies are cascaded to users of any size, or what Lenovo calls “From Exascale to Everyscale™.”
Software optimization for HPC and AI convergence: A key focus area will be building out Lenovo’s smarter software offerings, including optimizing Lenovo’s LiCO HPC/AI software stack for Intel’s next-generation technologies, and alignment with the Intel oneAPI® programming framework. Additionally, the collaboration will work to enable DAOS advanced storage frameworks and other exascale-class software optimizations, targeted at helping HPC and AI users run their applications with greater ease than before.
Ecosystem enablement: Additionally, Intel and Lenovo plan to partner to help create the new ecosystem for the convergence of HPC and AI. This includes building joint “HPC & AI centers of excellence” around the world to further enable research and university centers to develop solutions that address some of the most pervasive world challenges, including genomics, cancer, weather and climate, space exploration and more. (Source: Intel and Lenovo)
It seems as though Lenovo will use Intel’s new solutions including upcoming GPUs. Lenovo will optimize its software and hardware offerings around Intel as it does already. As we saw in our recent feature Lenovo Discusses Deep Learning and AI Q3 2019, features like the Lenovo Neptune liquid cooling are set to prominently headline the company’s newest designs.
Background on Lenovo’s Dominant Top500 System Vendor Position
Lenovo is the #1 systems vendor to the Top500 with a catch. As we noted in Top500 June 2019 Our New Systems Analysis and Top500 November 2018 Our New Systems Analysis and What Must Stop as examples, Lenovo’s strength in the Top500 list is not driven primarily by traditional HPC systems doing HPC work. Instead, Lenovo has been carving up subsections of Internet service provider clusters and running linpack on them. As a result, One can see that Lenovo is adding large numbers of systems based on low-cost Ethernet interconnects. Here is a look from the June 2019 Top500 list’s newly added systems:
One can see that Lenovo is aggressive using lower-speed and higher-latency interconnects to inflate its numbers on the list. When you see claims in the press release like “Today, 173 of the world’s TOP500 fastest supercomputers, spanning 19 markets run on Lenovo servers” one needs to put into context how the company is achieving that position.