Tech giant Nvidia is making a play for high performance computing (HPC) on PCIe servers with its new Tesla P100 GPU accelerator. The high-speed serial expansion bus aims to deliver significantly better computing performance for value than comparable CPU-based servers, with an eye toward serving the most computationally demanding AI (artificial intelligence) and HPC data center applications.
The Tesla GPU, which uses the company’s Pascal architecture, is designed specifically to support massive computational jobs that may require trillions of calculations per second, such as powering the AI behind self-driving cars, crunching the numbers on climate models, or performing drug discovery analyses.
Only Path Forward for Researchers
The new accelerator is compatible with modern GPU-accelerated servers, with a single Tesla P100-powered server capable of delivering higher performance than 50 CPU-only server nodes when running the AMBER molecular dynamics code, the company claimed. A Tesla-accelerated server is also faster than 32 CPU-only nodes when running the VASP material science application, according to Nvidia.
Accelerators are the only way data centers can keep up with the ever-increasing demand for supercomputing capacity, particularly in fields of scientific research using AI technology or deep learning techniques, Nvidia said.
"Accelerated computing is the only path forward to keep up with researchers' insatiable demand for HPC and AI supercomputing," said Ian Buck, vice president of accelerated computing at Nvidia, in a statement. "Deploying CPU-only systems to meet this demand would require large numbers of commodity compute nodes, leading to substantially increased costs without proportional performance gains. Dramatically scaling performance with fewer, more powerful Tesla P100-powered nodes puts more dollars into computing instead of vast infrastructure overhead.”
The accelerator enables the creation of "super nodes" that provide the throughput of more than 32 commodity CPU-based nodes and help companies save up to 70 percent in capital and operational costs, according to Nvidia.
Doubling System Performance
Later this year, the new PCIe accelerators will be installed to help power an upgraded version of Europe's fastest supercomputer, the Piz Daint system at the Swiss National Supercomputing Center in Lugano, Switzerland.
"Tesla P100 accelerators deliver new levels of performance and efficiency to address some of the most important computational challenges of our time," said Thomas Schulthess, professor of computational physics at ETH Zurich and director of the Swiss National Supercomputing Center, in the statement. "The upgrade of 4,500 GPU-accelerated nodes on Piz Daint to Tesla P100 GPUs will more than double the system's performance, enabling researchers to achieve breakthroughs in a range of fields, including cosmology, materials science, seismology and climatology."
The PCIe-based accelerators will feature 4.7 teraflops double-precision performance, 9.3 teraflops single-precision performance and 18.7 teraflops half-precision performance with Nvidia GPU Boost technology. Like its predecessors in Nvidia's Tesla Accelerated Computing Platform, the PCIe version of the P100 will include support for 410 GPU-accelerated applications, including nine of the top 10 HPC applications.
The accelerators will begin selling in Q4 of this year, through Nvidia resellers and manufacturers.