Large Hadron Collider gets 4,500 more data-crunching GPUs

Swiss super Piz Daint levels up with new Nvidia and Haswell kit

Swiss super Piz Daint is getting an upgrade with 4,500 Nvidia Pascal GPUs, replacing 5,200 existing K20x accelerators.

The iron, operated by the Swiss National Supercomputer Centre CSCS in Lugano, will have its 7.8 petaflop current performance doubled to nearly 16 petaflops.

Announced at GTC16, the upgrade will also include switching Piz Daint's CPUs from Intel Sandy Bridge to Haswell processors. The system will be configured so users can choose between CPU-only operation, or hybrid CPU and GPU.

CSCS director Thomas Schulthess nominated cosmology, materials science and climatology as target applications for the upgraded machine, saying it will enable computations that are currently “out of reach”.

There's also Piz Daint's work on Large Hadron Collider data analysis, and the Human Brain Project's “High Performance Analytics and Computing Platform” runs on the machine.

Nvidia's canned crowing (not linked, because it currently generates an HTTPS certificate error) notes that the Pascal GPUs include HBM2 (high bandwidth memory, second generation) which triples the memory bandwidth of the previous version.

Other highlights of the upgrade include implementing Cray's DataWarp, which uses what's called Burst Buffer mode to pump up the the long-term storage bandwidth.

The upgrade should bump Piz Daint up from its current Top500 number seven spot. If it happens quicker than upgrades to two US and one Japanese supers, Piz Daint will land in fourth spot, at least for a while. ®

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