Pleiades Supercomputer Moves Up the Ranks with Haswell

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Pleiades_two_row_smallNASA reports that it’s newly upgraded Pleiades supercomputer ranks number 11 on the July 2015 TOP500 list of the most powerful supercomputers. And while the LINPACK computing power of Pleiades jumped nearly 21 percent, its ranking at number 5 on the new HPCG benchmark list reflects its ability to tackle real world applications.

Our goal continues to be to give scientists the computing capacity needed to do their research,” said William Thigpen, systems engineering branch chief at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) facility at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. “The impact of our continuous performance improvements to Pleiades is not about numbers on a list, but to support the ever-increasing modeling and simulation needs of missions across NASA—from aeronautics, to space exploration, to Earth and space sciences,” Thigpen said.

A series of upgrades over the past nine months increased the 211,360-core Pleaides’ sustained performance to 4.09 petaflops on the LINPACK benchmark. Sustained performance on the HPCG benchmark was measured at 131.90 teraflops. The upgrades included the addition of 4,176 12-core Haswell processors, each performing twice as many scientific calculations per second as the previous generation of Intel processors.

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Pleiades additional power is already benefitting scientists. For example, in May 2015, using data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission to measure the moon’s gravity field interior structure from crust to core, scientists running very large computations on Pleiades’ Intel Xeon E5-2680v3 (Haswell) processors got results in half the time it took on the previous-generation processors. The improvement will save more than 2.5 million hours of computer time over the life of the project.

As another example, the increased number of Haswell nodes on Pleiades greatly reduced the time required to run roughly 10,000 cases for the booster separation aerodynamic database to support the first flight of Space Launch System (SLS) in 2018. The database is critical for SLS flight qualification, to determine the risk of the boosters recontacting the core after separation, which could cause loss of mission. The additional nodes cut in half the time required to populate the remaining data.

Source: NASA

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