Intel’s Data-Centric Portfolio Accelerates Convergence of High-Performance Computing and AI Workloads

At the 2019 International Supercomputing Conference (ISC’19), Intel provided the latest updates on how its data-centric portfolio is transforming next-generation high-performance computing (HPC) systems and propelling the industry toward exascale computing. 

Trish Damkroger, Intel vice president and general manager of the Extreme Computing Organization, said, “In today’s data-centric world, Intel continues to drive innovation and performance. Our portfolio of HPC solutions, including Intel Xeon Platinum 9200 processors and Intel Optane DC persistent memory, enables unprecedented explorations in science and discovery.” 

Why Today’s News Matters: Today’s advanced HPC systems leverage both traditional HPC data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to efficiently address the most complex scientific problems. As the need for more computing performance increases in HPC systems, memory bandwidth is increasingly a bottleneck. Intel’s disclosures at ISC’19 demonstrate how its data-centric portfolio addresses the unique challenges of HPC systems by bringing together HPC data analytics and AI acceleration into a single computing environment, while delivering a new memory and storage paradigm that feeds the compute engine. 

What Updates Did Intel Provide at ISC’19: Intel’s data-centric portfolio provides the foundation for system architects to build advanced computing systems that move, store and process massive amounts of data. For systems that demand the highest computing performance, Intel announced today that pre-configured systems based on Intel Xeon Platinum 9200 processors are available for purchase from select OEMs, including Atos, HPE, Lenovo, Penguin Computing, Megware and authorized Intel resellers. An extension of the 2nd generation Intel Xeon Scalable processor family, the Intel Xeon Platinum 9200 processor series is architected to deliver leadership performance for workloads and usages such as scientific simulations, financial analytics, artificial intelligence/deep learning, 3D modeling and analysis, cryptography, and data compression. Intel Xeon Platinum 9200 processors feature integrated Intel Deep Learning Boost (Intel DL Boost) technology to accelerate AI performance up to 30x over the previous generation Xeon Scalable processor at launch. 

What Else was Announced at ISC’19: Also at ISC’19, Intel, together with ECMWF, EPCC, Fujitsu, Arctur and the other partners of the NEXTGenIO project, disclosed the latest breakthrough performance results using Intel Optane DC persistent memory across various supercomputing applications.

  • The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) achieved 10-times higher bandwidth when its Fields Database, which holds the meteorological data for medium-range weather forecasts, was stored in persistent memory and distributed across multiple computing nodes. Use of compute notes equipped with Intel Optane DC persistent memory accelerated ECMWF’s global weather forecasts and a reduced number of I/O nodes needed to run its models.
  • The Arctur HPC center, in partnership with Barcelona Supercomputer Center, achieved a 2x3 speed-up in simulating 3D models of an electric lightweight aircraft, which reduced its OpenFOAM runtimes by 50%3 on 16 nodes.
  • EPCC achieved 2-times3 higher throughput on the CASTEP material science application when running its code on computing nodes equipped with Intel Optane DC persistent memory, accelerating material science research across multiple domains.

Intel is further accelerating the adoption of Intel Optane DC persistent memory in HPC systems. Intel announced a revolutionary new storage architecture for supercomputing that leverages Intel Optane DC persistent memory and Distributed Asynchronous Object Storage (DAOS). DAOS is an open-source software-defined scale-out object store providing high-bandwidth, low-latency and high I/O operations, and is designed specifically for convergence of HPC and AI workloads. This new software-defined storage engine eliminates several limitations of today’s parallel file systems.

Susan Coghlan, ALCF-X project director/exascale computing systems deputy director, said, “The Argonne Leadership Computing Facility will be the first major production deployment of the DAOS storage system as part of Aurora, the first U.S. exascale system coming in 2021. The DAOS storage system is designed to provide the levels of metadata operation rates and bandwidth required for I/O extensive workloads on an exascale-level machine.”

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