New TOP500 Supercomputer June 2017 List Released a Few Insights

BSC CNS MareNostrum
BSC CNS MareNostrum

Every time a TOP500 supercomputer is released, we like to browse for trends. This is especially important this year (2017) as we are seeing the launch of several new processor launches around the same time as ISC in Germany. 

Intel Xeon Platinum and Gold Plus Omni-Path Juggernaut Starts Rolling

Intel Omni-Path is about to make an even bigger splash in the market. This 100Gbps “Infiniband like” fabric was originally announced as a discrete card and as an on-chip fabric with Intel Knights Landing. Intel has already announced that Omni-Path is coming to its next-generation Intel Xeon Platinum and Intel Xeon Gold families or “Skylake-SP”. This is now one year after release so we wanted to see any developments in this area.

In terms of penetration, Intel Omni-Path now powers 38 of the top 500 listed supercomputers or about 7.6% of the overall list. That number was 28 systems six months ago on the November 2016 TOP500 list. Narrowing that down to the top 100, Omni-Path powers 13 systems. Generally, the top 100 is a good proxy to seeing where the market is moving.

In that list, there are a few notable systems. Namely, there are two Intel Xeon Platinum and Gold systems in the June 2017 TOP500 list with Omni-Path. First debuting at #13 is the Barcelona Supercomputing Center’s MareNostrum. MareNostrum is a Lenovo SD530 based system using Xeon Platinum 8160 24C 2.1GHz CPUs and Intel Omni-Path.

BSC CNS MareNostrum
BSC CNS MareNostrum

Second is BASF’s QURIOSITY HPE Apollo XL230k, Intel Xeon Gold 6148 20C 2.4GHz, Intel Omni-Path based system at #65.

Intel’s own supercomputer, the Endeavor I is also built around the Xeon Gold 6148 20C 2.4GHz and Intel Omni-Path. It comes in at #267 on this list using under 224kW or less than 10x the capacity of the main STH/ DemoEval lab which just got an Omni-Path upgrade.

The significance of this cannot be underestimated. Omni-Path is powering all three of the TOP500 entries based on the next-generation Intel CPUs set to be released this “mid-summer” 2017.

We hope to learn more details in the coming hours/ days but we suspect these systems are utilizing the on-package Intel Omni-Path option which we expect to see a lot of on the November 2017 TOP500 list.

Where is AMD on the List?

AMD has a number of entries in the list, mostly dating back to Opteron 6200 series CPUs released in November 2011. There are a total of six TOP500 supercomputers on this list with one Opteron 6100 series and one Opteron 6300 series system.

AMD does have one ATI Radeon based system as well. This compares to 71 systems using NVIDIA GPUs and 13 using Intel co-processors. There are 3 systems that use both Xeon Phi and NVIDIA GPUs and thirteen using Xeon Phi as a base CPU not as a co-processor.

We were a bit surprised not to see any new AMD entries with the impending release of EPYC the day after the June 19 TOP500 list came out, and Vega based GPUs. Contrast this with Intel who has systems built, installed and benchmarked with the Skylake-SP.

For the November 2017 TOP500 list, we expect AMD to pick up a few spots.

Cavium ThunderX2 and ARM News

Perhaps one of the more interesting announcements was that the Cavium ThunderX2 is now on the Atos product list, joining Penguin computing. It is little secret that the original ThunderX product was not intended for HPC applications. Looking at our piece from last year the ThunderX2 did not appear to be a major HPC contender.

The answer to this lies in the fact that Cavium has been acquiring a wide range of technology and the ThunderX2 incarnation we have today is significantly different compared to what we had expected last year.

We will have more details on this once we get clarification on what we can share.


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