Prometheus still ranks high on TOP500 list

photos by KSAF AGH UST

The latest TOP500 Ranking of the world’s fastest supercomputers has been just announced during the Supercomputing’18 Conference held in Dallas, US. Once again, the list features Prometheus, which took the remarkable 131st. place.

Prometheus – the fastest Polish supercomputer

Prometheus, deployed at ACK CYFRONET AGH is Poland’s fastest supercomputer, built by Hewlett-Packard in accordance with design principles developed by Cyfronet experts. The machine consists of over 2200 HP Apollo8000 platform servers connected by superfast InfiniBand network with  56 Gb/s throughput. The supercomputer has been supplied with over 53000 computational cores (energy-efficient and high-performance Inter Haswell processors) and 282 TB RAM developed in the DDR4 technology. Additionally, Prometheus is supported by two file systems of 10PB capacity (combined) and the access speed of 180 Gb/s. The supercomputer is also accompanied by Nvidia Tesla cards with GPGPU graphics processors. Prometheus can deliver a peak performance of 2.4 PFLOPS.

– To put the speed of Prometheus into perspective: if you wanted to catch up with its amazing performance you would need to use the power of over 50000 top class PC’s in their strongest configuration, additionally connected into a superfast network and managed by dedicated software – said professor Kazimierz Wiatr, Director of ACC CYFRONET AGH UST.

Prometheus is distinguished by its state-of-the-art liquid cooling system, which makes it one of the world’s most energy-efficient computers in its class. The use of dry coolers to maintain proper liquid temperature is perfectly sufficient in our climate, a solution which is considerably cheaper than energy-intensive ice water generators and technologically advanced precision air conditioning (PAC) systems, which consume large amounts of power. Liquid cools both CPUs and GPGPUs as well as memory modules using a dedicated air-tight system of heat pipes and direct contact heat transfer between the servers and the liquid flow system. The servers themselves remain dry – they can be removed at any time, without the risk of the liquid leaking from the cooling system. In addition, liquid-based cooling has enabled very high installation density of as many as 144 computational servers stored in a single cabinet.

The architecture of Prometheus addresses a vast array of research needs as it provides multiple resources organised into partitions:  

  • classic computational servers with high-performance Intel Haswell processors,
  • set of servers with NVIDIAK80 graphics processors
  • acceleration partition with GPGPU NVIDIA K80 as well as Intel Xeon Phi and Nallatech FPGA accelerators,
  • set of servers for performing calculations in the cloud environment.

The supercomputer is used by Polish researchers to address a number of their needs, including:  

  • study results analysis,
  • numerical simulations,
  • advanced visualisations,
  • parallel big data analysis,
  • cloud services and many others.

Prometheus has been assembled in a modern computer facility run by ACC Cyfronet, which was specifically adapted for its regular operation. The proper performance of the supercomputer is secured by many important elements of supporting technical infrastructure, including guaranteed power supply system with a supplementary power generator and advanced  industrial air conditioning and gas extinguishing systems.

Poland vs Europe and the rest of the world

The world’s fastest supercomputer is – again – the Summit based in the USA, whose theoretical computing power exceeds 200 PFlops. The TOP500 ranking is clearly dominated by supercomputers from China (229 units) ahead of the US (108 units). Note that the total computing power of US-based supercomputers exceeds that of Chinese machines.

European countries, whose supercomputers have made it to the ranking (14 countries, including Russia) took the total of 97 places. Europe’s fastest supercomputer is Piz Daint from Switzerland, which was ranked 5th. SuperMUC-NG from Germany has also made it to top 10, in 8th. place. European leaders with the largest number of supercomputers in the TOP500 include: the United Kingdom (20 units), France (18 units) and Germany (17 units).

Apart from Prometheus, this year’s TOP500 Ranking features three other Polish supercomputers. The full list of Poland-based machines, together with their respective computing powers, is as follows: 

  • 131 – Prometheus  Academic Computer Centre CYFRONET AGH UST (2349 TFLOPS),
  • 414 – Eagle - Poznań Centre for Supercomputers and Networks (PCSS)  (1372 TFLOPS),
  • 419 – Tryton – Academic Computer Centre, Gdańsk University of Technology (1413 TFLOPS),
  • 478 – Okeanos – ICM UW Technology Centre, University of Warsaw, (1082 TFLOPS).