Ohio Supercomputer Center Acquires Dell HPC System

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April 12, 2022 — The Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) will launch Ascend, a Dell Technologies-based high performance computing cluster with  NVIDIA GPUs and AMD EPYC CPUs to support AI, machine learning, , simulation, big data and data analytics in fall 2022.

The system is comprised of Dell PowerEdge servers with 48 AMD EPYC CPUs and 96 NVIDIA A100 80GB Tensor Cores GPUs and NVIDIA NVLink and interconnected by the NVIDIA Quantum 200Gb/s InfiniBand platform. OSC said Ascend triples the center’s supercomputing capacity, it joins the Pitzer and Owens clusters current capabilities of 5.5 petaflops, more than 14.2 petabytes of disk storage capacity and more than 14 petabytes of expandable backup storage. Ascend will add additional petaflops of performance.

OSC is involved in two National Science Foundation-funded projects designed to advance AI work. One is the AI Institute for Intelligent Cyberinfrastructure with Computational Learning in the Environment (ICICLE), led by Ohio State University, which will build the next generation of cyberinfrastructure with a focus on making AI more accessible.

The name Ascend is meant to evoke Ohio’s history in the aviation and aeronautics fields. Known as the “Birthplace of Aviation” for its flight innovators the Wright Brothers, Ohio also lays claim to the first night and commercial cargo flights, the first female pilot to circumnavigate the globe, and the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the National Air Force Museum. Ohio has produced more astronauts than any other state in the nation and is home to the NASA Glenn Research Center. Even the most iconic fictional person to take to the skies, Superman, was created in Cleveland.  In the spirit of that legacy, Ascend will be OSC’s first computing cluster devoted entirely to intensive GPU processing, helping Ohio academia and industry elevate their research endeavors.

“Over the last few years, OSC has experienced a growing demand for its GPU resources,” said Doug Johnson, associate director of OSC. “By establishing a cluster focused on analysis of very large datasets quickly, support for classes of AI/ML applications that can’t run on our current systems, and simulations that require the fastest GPUs, OSC will better meet the needs of these clients while ensuring the prompt processing of requests for our existing clusters, Owens and Pitzer.”

OSC also is offering the “AI Bootcamp for Cyberinfrastructure (CI) Professionals” this year to build expertise in AI and supportive technologies among staff at research computing facilities like OSC nationally. “Ascend will provide a state-of-the art resource for the ICICLE research team to explore and develop new AI technologies while also giving our staff an opportunity to increase their understanding of the AI workload and best practices for support of this growing area,” said Karen Tomko, OSC director of research software applications.

“Dell Technologies is working with the Ohio Supercomputer Center to help industry and academic researchers pioneer in their respective fields with the latest in advanced computing technology and expertise,” says Rajesh Pohani, vice president of PowerEdge, Core Compute and High Performance Computing, Dell Technologies. “Ascend’s AI capabilities, enhanced by powerful PowerEdge XE8545 servers, will complement and significantly expand the advanced computing resources essential to engineering innovation and scientific discovery that is ultimately helping to move forward human progress.”

“The exascale AI era will allow researchers to make discoveries that were considered unattainable for decades,” said Ian Buck, vice president of Hyperscale and HPC at NVIDIA. “NVIDIA’s accelerated computing platform equips pioneers like the researchers at OSC with the breakthrough performance of next-generation supercomputers such as Ascend to push the boundaries of scientific exploration.”

“AMD EPYC processors support researchers around the world with the performance and productivity needed to answer some of science’s biggest questions,” said Brock Taylor, director of high performance computing, AMD. “We’re excited the Ascend supercomputer will help the Ohio Supercomputer Center advance their mission to advance levels of artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data and data analytics.”

OSC’s client services team will evaluate client requests to run projects on Ascend, which will be accessible through OSC’s OnDemand web portal.

OSC plans to announce a more detailed timeline for the Ascend launch and availability this summer.