Cray's pre-exascale Shasta supercomputer gets energy research boffins hot under collar

US DoE sees multiple CPU, GPU, interconnect support and snaps one up for $146m

Cray has announced Shasta – a near-composable planned supercomputer supporting multiple CPUs, GPUs and interconnects, including its new high-speed Slingshot Ethernet-compatible fabric that fixes the noisy neighbour network congestion problem.

Shasta is designed to run multiple workload types: traditional HPC-like modelling and simulation, AI and analytics. It can be built using standard 19-inch or water-cooled racks, including warm-water cooling.

These liquid-cooled racks are designed to hold 64 compute blades with multiple processors per blade. The system is capable of supporting processors exceeding 500W.

It has clustered processing nodes, Cray's ClusterStor and other storage, and there can be more than 100 cabinets.

The compute side of things includes support for Intel and AMD x86 CPUs, Marvell Thunder X2 ARM processors, GPUs, such as Nvidia Teslas and AMD Radeons, and FPGAs. These can be mixed and matched in a single Shasta system. Several interconnect options are available: Cray's new Slingshot, Mellanox InfiniBand and Intel's OmniPath, and these can also be mixed and matched in a Shasta system.

Cray is developing the Shasta system management software and it should enable workloads to be created that use specific processors, interconnects and storage, which would look like a form of composability.

Shasta systems should be available in the fourth quarter of 2019.


This is an interconnect using switches with a Rosetta ASIC inside. These have 64 x 200Gbit/s ports and 12.8Tbit/s of bi-directional bandwidth. Slingshot supports up to 250,000 endpoints and it takes a maximum of three hops to cross the Slingshot fabric, an improvement on the five needed by Cray's current XC system interconnect.


Our own diagram of Slingshot attributes

The interconnect features adaptive routing and congestion control to prevent workloads hogging bandwidth the noisy neighbour network problem, and quality of service. It also has Ethernet compatibility; think of Slingshot having an Ethernet edge around its HPC interconnect core.

Ethernet and HPC traffic can be inter-mixed and run on the same wires.

Cray said Shasta will have support for both IP-routed and remote memory operations.

NERSC Perlmutter

The US DoE's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) is buying a Shasta system for $146m named after Nobel-prize-winning scientist Saul Perlmutter.

This Xeon-free system has a heterogeneous combination of CPU and GPU-accelerated nodes:

  • AMD Epyc CPUs
  • Nvidia GPUs with Tensor Core technology
  • Slingshot interconnect
  • Direct liquid cooling
  • Lustre filesystem

It will have an all-flash scratch filesystem, which will move data at a rate of more than 4TB/sec.

Perlmutter, the system, will be deployed in 2020 and is expected to deliver three times the computational power available on the Cori supercomputer at NERSC. No actual petaFLOPS rating has been revealed, though a peak performance of around 100 petaFLOPS was mentioned by Wells Fargo senior analyst Aaron Rakers.

"I'm delighted to hear that the next supercomputer will be especially capable of handling large and complex data analysis. So it's a great honor to learn that this system will be called Perlmutter," the eponymous scientist said.

"Though I also realize I feel some trepidation since we all know what it's like to be frustrated with our computers, and I hope no one will hold it against me after a day wrestling with a tough data set and a long computer queue! I have at least been assured that no one will have to type my 10-character last name to log in." ®

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

  • Demand for PC and smartphone chips drops 'like a rock' says CEO of China’s top chipmaker
    Markets outside China are doing better, but at home vendors have huge component stockpiles

    Demand for chips needed to make smartphones and PCs has dropped "like a rock" – but mostly in China, according to Zhao Haijun, the CEO of China's largest chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC).

    Speaking on the company's Q1 2022 earnings call last Friday, Zhao said smartphone makers currently have five months inventory to hand, so are working through that stockpile before ordering new product. Sales of PCs, consumer electronics and appliances are also in trouble, the CEO said, leaving some markets oversupplied with product for now. But unmet demand remains for silicon used for Wi-Fi 6, power conversion, green energy products, and analog-to-digital conversion.

    Zhao partly attributed sales slumps to the Ukraine war which has made the Russian market off limits to many vendors and effectively taken Ukraine's 44 million citizens out of the global market for non-essential purchases.

    Continue reading
  • Colocation consolidation: Analysts look at what's driving the feeding frenzy
    Sometimes a half-sized shipping container at the base of a cell tower is all you need

    Analysis Colocation facilities aren't just a place to drop a couple of servers anymore. Many are quickly becoming full-fledged infrastructure-as-a-service providers as they embrace new consumption-based models and place a stronger emphasis on networking and edge connectivity.

    But supporting the growing menagerie of value-added services takes a substantial footprint and an even larger customer base, a dynamic that's driven a wave of consolidation throughout the industry, analysts from Forrester Research and Gartner told The Register.

    "You can only provide those value-added services if you're big enough," Forrester research director Glenn O'Donnell said.

    Continue reading
  • D-Wave deploys first US-based Advantage quantum system
    For those that want to keep their data in the homeland

    Quantum computing outfit D-Wave Systems has announced availability of an Advantage quantum computer accessible via the cloud but physically located in the US, a key move for selling quantum services to American customers.

    D-Wave reported that the newly deployed system is the first of its Advantage line of quantum computers available via its Leap quantum cloud service that is physically located in the US, rather than operating out of D-Wave’s facilities in British Columbia.

    The new system is based at the University of Southern California, as part of the USC-Lockheed Martin Quantum Computing Center hosted at USC’s Information Sciences Institute, a factor that may encourage US organizations interested in evaluating quantum computing that are likely to want the assurance of accessing facilities based in the same country.

    Continue reading
  • Bosses using AI to hire candidates risk discriminating against disabled applicants
    US publishes technical guide to help organizations avoid violating Americans with Disabilities Act

    The Biden administration and Department of Justice have warned employers using AI software for recruitment purposes to take extra steps to support disabled job applicants or they risk violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

    Under the ADA, employers must provide adequate accommodations to all qualified disabled job seekers so they can fairly take part in the application process. But the increasing rollout of machine learning algorithms by companies in their hiring processes opens new possibilities that can disadvantage candidates with disabilities. 

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the DoJ published a new document this week, providing technical guidance to ensure companies don't violate ADA when using AI technology for recruitment purposes.

    Continue reading
  • How ICE became a $2.8b domestic surveillance agency
    Your US tax dollars at work

    The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has spent about $2.8 billion over the past 14 years on a massive surveillance "dragnet" that uses big data and facial-recognition technology to secretly spy on most Americans, according to a report from Georgetown Law's Center on Privacy and Technology.

    The research took two years and included "hundreds" of Freedom of Information Act requests, along with reviews of ICE's contracting and procurement records. It details how ICE surveillance spending jumped from about $71 million annually in 2008 to about $388 million per year as of 2021. The network it has purchased with this $2.8 billion means that "ICE now operates as a domestic surveillance agency" and its methods cross "legal and ethical lines," the report concludes.

    ICE did not respond to The Register's request for comment.

    Continue reading
  • Fully automated AI networks less than 5 years away, reckons Juniper CEO
    You robot kids, get off my LAN

    AI will completely automate the network within five years, Juniper CEO Rami Rahim boasted during the company’s Global Summit this week.

    “I truly believe that just as there is this need today for a self-driving automobile, the future is around a self-driving network where humans literally have to do nothing,” he said. “It's probably weird for people to hear the CEO of a networking company say that… but that's exactly what we should be wishing for.”

    Rahim believes AI-driven automation is the latest phase in computer networking’s evolution, which began with the rise of TCP/IP and the internet, was accelerated by faster and more efficient silicon, and then made manageable by advances in software.

    Continue reading
  • Pictured: Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way
    We speak to scientists involved in historic first snap – and no, this isn't the M87*

    Astronomers have captured a clear image of the gigantic supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy for the first time.

    Sagittarius A*, or Sgr A* for short, is 27,000 light-years from Earth. Scientists knew for a while there was a mysterious object in the constellation of Sagittarius emitting strong radio waves, though it wasn't really discovered until the 1970s. Although astronomers managed to characterize some of the object's properties, experts weren't quite sure what exactly they were looking at.

    Years later, in 2020, the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to a pair of scientists, who mathematically proved the object must be a supermassive black hole. Now, their work has been experimentally verified in the form of the first-ever snap of Sgr A*, captured by more than 300 researchers working across 80 institutions in the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration. 

    Continue reading
  • Shopping for malware: $260 gets you a password stealer. $90 for a crypto-miner...
    We take a look at low, low subscription prices – not that we want to give anyone any ideas

    A Tor-hidden website dubbed the Eternity Project is offering a toolkit of malware, including ransomware, worms, and – coming soon – distributed denial-of-service programs, at low prices.

    According to researchers at cyber-intelligence outfit Cyble, the Eternity site's operators also have a channel on Telegram, where they provide videos detailing features and functions of the Windows malware. Once bought, it's up to the buyer how victims' computers are infected; we'll leave that to your imagination.

    The Telegram channel has about 500 subscribers, Team Cyble documented this week. Once someone decides to purchase of one or more of Eternity's malware components, they have the option to customize the final binary executable for whatever crimes they want to commit.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022