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HIGH PERFORMANCE COMPUTING


Innovation in HPC memory


ROBERT ROE TAKES A LOOK AT THE NEXTGENIO PROJECT TO SEE HOW MEMORY TECHNOLOGY FOR HPC IS OVERCOMING APPLICATION BOTTLENECKS


With exascale on the horizon, memory companies are looking to new technologies to help solve the


memory bottleneck that is affecting performance of many large applications. Technologies such as 3D XPoint, a


non-volatile memory (NVM) technology developed jointly by Intel and Micron Technology, could help to alleviate this issue. The technology was announced in July 2015 and is available under brand names Optane (Intel) and subsequently QuantX (Micron) since April 2017. This technology forms the basis of the


architecture for the NEXTGenIO project, funded from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under Grant Agreement no. 67195. NEXTGenIO started in 2015 by a consortium consisting of partners EPCC, Intel, Fujitsu, Technische Universität Dresden, Barcelona


10 Scientific Computing World Spring 2020


Supercomputing Center, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Arm (formerly Allinea) and Arctur. The research project aims to bridge the gap between memory and storage, using Intel’s Optane DC Persistent Memory, which is technically close to DRAM speed and significantly better than disk storage. The challenge of this project is to develop multiple HPC subsystems that communicate simultaneously removing slow disk storage and the limits on how fast the system can read and write data, which creates the bottleneck that we see today. The solution, envisioned by the


NEXTGenIO, is based on a new approach to HPC; Fujitsu was invited to help develop the prototype. Fujitsu designed a 34-node computing cluster using IntelOptane Data Center Persistent Memory Modules (DCPMMs). Each of the 34 compute nodes is equipped with two second-generation Intel Xeon Scalable Family processor CPUs and 3TB of Intel Optane DC persistent memory. If successful, the project will accelerate


HPC application performance leading to faster and more complex science becoming a real possibility on HPC systems. Other knock-on effects will be faster time to results and reduced cost per memory capacity. The project uses Intel memory, which


will sit between conventional memory and disk storage. NEXTGenIO will design the hardware and software to exploit the new memory technology. The goal is to build a system with 100x faster I/O than current HPC systems, a significant step towards exascale computation. Current HPC systems already perform on the order of tens to hundreds of Pflops. Although this already represents one million billion computations per second, more complex demands on scientific modelling and simulation mean even faster computation is necessary. The next step is Exascale computing, which is up to 1000 times faster than current petascale systems. One of the major roadblocks to achieving this goal is in overcoming the I/O bottleneck. Current systems are capable of


processing data quickly, but speeds are


‘The difference is the memory can be plugged in right next to the processor, just like a DRAM DIMM. The processor will see them as a single space’


@scwmagazine | www.scientific-computing.com


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