Exascale-class supercomputers accelerate digital simulation

11th January 2016
Barney Scott

Bull, an Atos brand, has launched Bull sequana X1000, a range of exascale-class supercomputers, the forerunners of the generation that will offer a thousand times more performance than current petaflops-scale systems. This compute performance is necessary to increase the quality and speed of digital simulations for both research and industry, so as to be in a position to tackle 21st century socio-economic challenges.

For example, Bull sequana can be implemented to improve the accuracy of weather forecasts, build even cleaner aircraft engines and use genomics to develop personalized medicine.

“Digital simulation is an essential tool to accompany the digital transformation of our clients. In this data-centric era, large processing infrastructures are an essential lever for development and wealth creation. Atos is proud to offer its customers a supercomputer that allows them to reinvent their business model,” said Thierry Breton, Chairman and CEO, Atos.

“In partnership with CEA and other strategic clients, the Bull teams have been developing market-leading innovative solutions, in terms of compute performance, to process large volumes of data and in terms of energy consumption. As a leader in the exascale race, Bull puts its expertise and know-how at the service of its clients, to accelerate research and innovation and increase their competitiveness,” explains Philippe Vannier, Executive Vice-President Big Data & Security and Chief Technology Officer of the Atos Group.

Many vendors are still struggling with technical limitations in the exascale race. Thanks to its innovation capacities, Bull delivers an innovative solution that matches the exascale technological challenges.

Bull sequana is designed to integrate the most advanced technologies in terms of processors, interconnect and data storage –that will make it possible to reach exascale. Open and designed around major industry standards for hardware and software, Bull sequana supercomputers offer customers a large choice of technologies to maximise their investment

An exascale class-system relying on current technologies, would consume around 400MW, equivalent to the yearly electrical annual consumption of 60,000 homes. Bull sequana reduces energy consumption by a factor of 10 as compared to the previous generation of supercomputers. Bull is targeting an electrical consumption of 20MW for exascale by 2020, thanks to its technologies and its research and development centers.

Organization, localization, storage and access to data, all of which are increasing exponentially, have a major impact on performance. Bull provides a hardware and software architecture adapted to the most complex treatment of data and based on its research in distributed systems management and data access.

The performance of exascale applications requires massive parallelism. Bull sequana integrates the Bull Exascale Interconnect (BXI) network, developed by Bull. Designed for exascale, BXI revolutionizes the treatment of data exchanges by freeing the processors of all communications tasks. In addition, the Bull sequana software environment allows a precise management of large resources and provides optimum production efficiency.

An exaflops-scale supercomputer includes tens of thousands of components. Such a system must incorporate high quality resilience. The architecture and packaging of Bull sequana were designed with this objective in mind, including the redundancy of critical components, and efficient software suite and management tools.

Bull sequana is the result of technological partnerships and of many co-operations within the European HPC ecosystem. Bull sequana, which will be delivered in 2015, with a general availability from Q3 2016, is a major milestone on the road to exascale.

For François Geleznikoff, Director of CEA military applications, commented:  “CEA is pleased to get this year the first prototype of the exascale supercomputer planned for 2020. This is our third generation of supercomputer supplied by Bull, which allows us to perform with great speed and reliability both physical modeling and very complex systems calculations.”

“GENCI welcome the Bull sequana exascale class supercomputers that will help researchers meet the major challenges of the 21st century in societal areas such as health, environment and new energy. In order to best prepare the French scientific communities to this next generation of supercomputers, GENCI has established a collaboration with Bull and Intel to evaluate the potential of these technologies and their suitability for a representative set of scientific applications of the major themes of the research," said Catherine Rivière, CEO of GENCI.

“Science is endless. The complexity of questions asked by the researchers at the forefront of scientific endeavors today require computer simulation that reaches from the subatomic to the intergalactic, from the Big Bang to the end of time. With Sequana, Bull is pushing the boundaries of computing, not merely to add three more zeroes to the end of a benchmark, but to provide a tool for implementing the ideas of today's greatest minds, to give us greater understanding of the universe and everything in it,"  said Addison Snell, Intersect360 Research

“The new Bull sequana system, powered by future Intel Xeon processors and the Intel Xeon Phi processor, code-named "Knights Landing", is designed to address the performance, reliability and energy-efficiency requirements of exascale-class supercomputers,” said Raj Hazra, vice president and general manager, Enterprise and HPC Platforms Group, Intel Corporation. “We’re excited to be collaborating with Bull to bring to market this new generation of supercomputers on the path to exascale.”

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