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HPE leaping ahead in exascale race with world's largest Arm supercomputer

19 Jun 18

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today announced a major stepping stone in its path to exascale computing.

The global giant announced its collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to implement the world’s largest Arm supercomputer.

The new Arm-based system will be used by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to conduct advanced modelling and simulation workloads for addressing areas such as national security, energy, and science.

With the system – which has been given the name Astra and is part of the Vanguard project – HPE is delivering over 2.3 theoretical peak petaflops of performance, 33 percent better memory performance than traditional market offerings, and greater system density.

Astra will be deployed at Sandia National Laboratories and will run on the HPE Apollo 70, a purpose-built HPC platform based on the Cavium ThunderX2 Arm processor. The supercomputer is comprised of over 145,000 cores in 2,592 dual-processor servers and offers greater density with four compute nodes in a 2U form factor.

HPE advanced technology group vice president Mike Vildibill says today’s data-intensive environment has given rise to an insatiable demand for higher compute performance as organizations continue to conduct research-intensive tasks that require processing and analyzing large data sets to address challenges across medicine, climate change, space, and oil and gas exploration.

“By introducing Arm processors with the HPE Apollo 70, a purpose-built HPC architecture, we are bringing powerful elements, like optimal memory performance and greater density, to supercomputers that existing technologies in the market cannot match,” says Vildibill.

“Sandia National Laboratories has been an active partner in leveraging our Arm-based platform since its early design, and featuring it in the deployment of the world’s largest Arm-based supercomputer, is a strategic investment for the DOE and an industry as a whole as we race toward achieving exascale computing.”

Of course, the HPC ecosystem has traditionally been dominated by x86-based technologies, a trend HPE is looking to change with new processors like Arm to build a network that offers more competitive options to power next-gen supercomputers and accelerate the path to exascale.

The NNSA is an agency within the DOE that is responsible for the management and security of the nation’s nuclear weapons, nuclear nonproliferation, and naval reactor programs. The agency will use the supercomputer advance modeling and simulation tools to improve analysis on data-intensive science experiments.

“We are committed to fielding the most advanced technologies as part of the Vanguard program,” says Sandia National Laboratories Vanguard project lead James Laros.

“We are collaborating with HPE to advance the Arm ecosystem and prove the viability of this architecture to support our national security mission.”