Stampede2 (Sean Cunningham, TACC)

Stampede2 charges online in Texas

The most powerful supercomputer at any U.S. academic institution has been powered up at the University of Texas at Austin.

Emblazoned with a burnt-orange image of Texas longhorn steer, Stampede2 takes up 8,000 square feet and features the 4,200 Knight's Landing nodes and Intel Omni-Path Architecture. It will double the performance, memory, storage capacity and bandwidth of its predecessor, while occupying half the physical size and consuming half the power.

Bill Barth, the director of high performance computing at the university’s Texas Advanced Computing Center, described Stampede 2 as a cluster, meaning it was built using commodity parts – “more or less regular computers that have a beefier processor and some sort of fancy network,” he explained to GCN.

TACC received funding from the National Science Foundation for the first version of Stampede in 2011. That award included an option for a noncompetitive renewal, which provided funding for Stampede2.

Because high-performance computing has become a vital part of scientific research over the years, agencies like NSF and the Department of Energy put money into infrastructure to allow the researchers, some of which they also fund, to do their jobs, Barth said.

“Basically, large-scale computing has to be funded in the United States, or the science we want to get done doesn’t get done,” he said.

Phase 1 of the system, which is complete, made Stampede2 the 12th most powerful supercomputer in the world on the June Top 500 list. Later this summer, Phase 2 will add additional hardware and processors, giving it a peak performance of 18 petaflops, or 18 quadrillion mathematical operations per second, TACC officials said. That's the equivalent processing power of 100,000 desktop computers.

Stampede2 will be integrated into TACC’s advanced computing environment, providing access to long-term storage, scientific visualization, machine learning and cloud computing capabilities. In addition to its massive scale, the new system will be among the first to employ the most advanced computer processor, memory, networking and storage technology from its industry partners DELLEMC, Intel and Seagate.

It will also be available to researchers through the NSF-supported Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment, a distributed computing infrastructure that will link researchers with advanced resources such as supercomputers, data and software tools.

Researchers, whose proposals to use the supercomputer are approved through a peer reviewed process, access the machine through a secure internet connection, Barth said.

The second and final phase will add 1,736 Intel Xeon Skylake nodes, bringing Stampede2 to full strength. Phase 2 will be done by fall of this year, he said.

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a reporter/producer at GCN.

Before joining GCN, Leonard worked as a local reporter for The Smithfield Times in southeastern Virginia. In his time there he wrote about town council meetings, local crime and what to do if a beaver dam floods your back yard. Over the last few years, he has spent time at The Commonwealth Times, The Denver Post and WTVR-CBS 6. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received the faculty award for print and online journalism.

Leonard can be contacted at mleonard@gcn.com or follow him on Twitter @Matt_Lnrd.

Click here for previous articles by Leonard.


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