At the recently-held (June 24-July 2) International Supercomputing Conference (ISC), Intel showcased how the company aims to extend its lead in high performance computing (HPC) with a range of technology disclosures, partnerships and customer adoptions. The chip giant announced advances in its Xeon processor for HPC and AI as well as innovations in memory, software, exascale-class storage, and networking technologies for a range of HPC use cases.
“To maximize HPC performance we must leverage all the computer resources and technology advancements available to us,” said Trish Damkroger, vice president and general manager of High Performance Computing at Intel. “Intel is the driving force behind the industry’s move toward exascale computing, and the advancements we’re delivering with our CPUs, XPUs, oneAPI Toolkits, exascale-class DAOS storage, and high-speed networking are pushing us closer toward that realization.”
Earlier this year, Intel strengthened its position in HPC with the launch of 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors. The latest processor delivers up to 53% higher performance across a range of HPC workloads, including life sciences, financial services and manufacturing, as compared to the previous generation processor.
Compared to its closest x86 competitor, the 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processor is claimed to deliver better performance across a range of popular HPC workloads. Xeon Scalable 8380 processors are also claimed to outperform AMD EPYC 7763 processors on key AI workloads, with 50% better performance across 20 common benchmarks.
HPC labs, supercomputing centers, universities and original equipment manufacturers who have adopted Intel’s latest compute platform include Dell Technologies, HPE, Korea Meteorological Administration, Lenovo, Max Planck Computing and Data Facility, Oracle, Osaka University and the University of Tokyo.
The company claims that its next-generation of Xeon Scalable processors (code-named “Sapphire Rapids) will offer integrated High Bandwidth Memory (HBM), providing a dramatic boost in memory bandwidth and a significant performance improvement for HPC applications that operate memory bandwidth-sensitive workloads. Users can power through workloads using just High Bandwidth Memory or in combination with DDR5.
The early leading wins for Sapphire Rapids processors with integrated HBM include the US Department of Energy’s Aurora supercomputer at Argonne National Laboratory and the Crossroads supercomputer at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The Sapphire Rapids-based platform will provide capabilities to accelerate HPC, including increased I/O bandwidth with PCI express 5.0 (compared to PCI express 4.0) and Compute Express Link (CXL) 1.1 support, enabling advanced use cases across compute, networking and storage.
In addition to memory and I/O advancements, Sapphire Rapids is optimized for HPC and artificial intelligence (AI) workloads, with a new built-in AI acceleration engine called Intel Advanced Matrix Extensions (AMX).
Extending Intel Ethernet for HPC
At ISC 2021, Intel also announced its new High Performance Networking with Ethernet (HPN) solution, which extends Ethernet technology capabilities for smaller clusters in the HPC segment by using standard Intel Ethernet 800 Series Network Adapters and Controllers, switches based on Intel Tofino P4-programmable Ethernet switch ASICs and the Intel Ethernet Fabric suite software. HPN is said to enable application performance comparable to InfiniBand at a lower cost while taking advantage of the ease of use offered by Ethernet.
Commercial support for DAOS
Intel rolled out commercial support for DAOS (distributed asynchronous object storage), an open-source software-defined object store built to optimize data exchange across Intel HPC architectures. DAOS is at the foundation of the Intel Exascale storage stack, previously announced by Argonne National Laboratory, and is being used by Intel customers such as LRZ and JINR (Joint Institute for Nuclear Research).
DAOS support is now available to partners as an L3 support offering, which enables partners to provide a complete turnkey storage solution by combining it with their services. In addition to Intel’s own data center building blocks, early partners for this new commercial support includes HPE, Lenovo, Supermicro, Brightskies, Croit, Nettrix, Quanta, and RSC Group.