Swiss AI supercomputer to use new Nvidia ARM chip

Swiss AI supercomputer to use new Nvidia ARM chip

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Nvidia is planning a high performance processor for a new generation of AI supercomputers. The chip, codenamed Grace, will use ARM’s second generation Neoverse processor core with Nvidia’s NV Link interconnect and low power LPDDR5 memory and is scheduled to ship in 2023.

The chip will be used for the Alps supercomputer at the Swiss National Computing Centre (CSCS) as a key tool for science throughout Europe when it comes online in the same year.

“We are thrilled to announce the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre will build a supercomputer powered by Grace and our next-generation GPU,” said Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia. “Using licensed Arm IP, Nvidia has designed Grace as a CPU specifically for giant-scale AI and HPC. Coupled with the GPU and DPU, Grace gives us the third foundational technology for computing, and the ability to re-architect the data centre to advance AI. Nvidia is now a three-chip company.”

ARM’s Neoverse Z1 (Zeus) and N2 (Perseus) cores aim to provide data centre and supercomputer chip designers with higher performance on a 5nm process technology. The architectures will be detailed later this month in eeNews Europe.

Alps will be built by Hewlett Packard Enterprise using the new HPE Cray EX supercomputer product line as well as the NVIDIA HGX supercomputing platform, including NVIDIA GPUs and the NVIDIA HPC SDK as well as the new Grace CPU.

The Alps system will replace CSCS’s existing Piz Daint supercomputer which is one of the world’ s most power efficient supercomputers.

“Deep learning is just an incredibly powerful set of tools that we add to the toolbox,” said CSCS Director Prof Thomas Schulthess. ”Nvidia’s novel Grace CPU allows us to converge AI technologies and classic supercomputing for solving some of the hardest problems in computational science. We are excited to make the new CPU available for our users in Switzerland and globally for processing and analyzing massive and complex scientific datasets.”

Alps is expected to be 7x faster than Nvidia’s 2.8-AI exaflops Selene supercomputer, currently recognized as the world’s leading supercomputer for AI by MLPerf.

“The scientists will not only be able to carry out simulations, but also pre-process or post-process their data,” said Schulthess. “This makes the whole workflow more efficient for them.”

CSCS designs and operates a dedicated system for numerical weather predictions (NWP) on behalf of MeteoSwiss, the Swiss meteorological service. This system has been running on GPUs since 2016.

The CSCS supercomputer is also used by Swiss scientists for the analysis of data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, the European Council for Nuclear Research. It is the Swiss Tier-2 system in the World LHC Computing Grid. This generates 90 petabytes of data a year.

Alps will use a new software-defined infrastructure that can support a wide range of projects. This will allow different teams, such those from MeteoSwiss, will be able to use one or more partitions on a single, unified infrastructure, rather than different machines. These can be virtual ad-hoc clusters for individual users or predefined clusters that research teams can put together with CSCS and then operate themselves.

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