Our friends at AMD have been making great strides in supercomputing for some time. At present, the Frontier supercomputer, one of many machines powered by the red team’s custom components, has won the top spot not only in the Top500 (opens in a new tab)and Green500 (opens in a new tab) lists, but also the HPL-AI (opens in a new tab) performance list. That’s a huge feat for the company, and it’s a testament to the raw silicon power that AMD produces today.
In the process, the Border (opens in a new tab) Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) supercomputer has become “the first true exascale machine”, according to Top500 announcements (opens in a new tab).
The supercomputer is powered by AMD’s 3rd generation, optimized for AI, 64 cores, 7A53 EPYC processors and four purpose-built Radeon Instinct MI250x Accelerator GPUs.
Just to get an idea of what kind of power we’re talking about here, AMD’s silicon provides 1.1 exaflops of computing power, which at peak performance equates to 1.1 quintillion calculations per second. For comparison, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 (opens in a new tab)-powered machine only offers around 35 (and a little) teraflops.
All this makes the Frontier supercomputer the fastest in the world today, and officially the first to break the exascale barrier.
“The easiest way to think about it is that Frontier will give us a boost of acceleration by a factor of eight”, an official video (opens in a new tab) Explain. In other words, we’ll be able to “solve problems eight times as complex” in the same amount of time it takes to make those calculations now.
Along with this incredible achievement, Frontier also won silver as the second most efficient supercomputer in the Green 500 list. (opens in a new tab). In fact, this thing can deliver 52.23 gigaflops per watt of power efficiency from a single cabinet, which is a good 11.33 gigaflops per watt compared to the single non-AMD machine in the top 5.
Topping the list is the Frontier TDS (opens in a new tab)also powered by AMD-optimized 3rd Gen EPYC processors and AMD Instinct MI250X GPUs.
The Red Team notes that the next steps for Frontier involve “continued testing and validation of the system, which remains on track for final acceptance and early access to science later in 2022.” The machine will then be opened in “full science” at the beginning of 2023.
Imagine all the good we can do in science and medicine with computing power (and efficiency) like that behind us.