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MareNostrum 4 announces Power 9 racks

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The Barcelona Supercomputing Centre has announced that the MareNostrum 4 supercomputer now has three operational racks of IBM Power 9 servers in its production system. The new servers deliver with a peak performance of 1.5 petaflops.

With this new hardware the Barcelona Supercomputing Center’s (BSC) aims to explore the high expectations of this technology to accelerate AI research. The racks also include Nvidia Volta GPUs to accelerate performance.

‘By selecting IBM POWER9, Barcelona Supercomputing Center has positioned its MareNostrum Supercomputer to accelerate the most demanding data-intensive workloads like deep learning and personalised medicine research,’ said David Turek, IBM VP of Exascale Systems. ‘IBM POWER9 Systems were designed from the ground up for big data and advanced analytics that fuel AI and high-performance computing applications, making it an ideal platform to advance BSC’s research.’

With the new Power 9 – Volta GPU racks, Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) becomes the first centre in Europe to offer access to the same technologies of the brand new Summit supercomputer, with which the US has snatched from China the throne of the most powerful supercomputer in the world.

Mateo Valero, director at Barcelona Supercomputing Center comments: ‘expectations that IBM Power Systems will help BSC accelerate MareNostrum’s ability to advance research in personalized medicine, deep learning, and AI applications.’

The 3 racks have a peak performance of 1.48 Petaflops, 50 per cent more than MareNostrum 3 supercomputer, which was taken offline 18 months ago. MareNostrum 3 had a performance of 1.1 Petaflops.

MareNostrum 4 is a heterogeneous supercomputer aimed at generating scientific knowledge and innovation. It is formed from a core block for current research workloads and three blocks of emerging technologies that are being added and updated as they become available. The main block, formed of Intel Xeon Platinum chips begun operation in July 2017, delivering a performance of 11.15 Petaflops. Power 9 racks are the first block of emerging technologies that have been installed. IBM delivered them on the 29 of December and they started operation in May 2018.

The aim of gradually incorporating emerging technologies like POWER9 into MareNostrum 4 is to allow BSC to experiment with advanced technological developments over the next few years. The goal of the centre is to evaluate which applications will get a better cost/performance ratio in each architecture and its suitability for future iterations of MareNostrum.

The 3 new racks of MareNostrum 4 are formed of 54 nodes of IBM POWER9 processors. Each node has 2 Witherspoons processors (with 20 cores of 3.1 GHz each), 4 Volta NVIDIA GPUS (with 16 GiB each), and 6,4 TB of NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory). The three new racks have 30.7 Terabytes of main memory, 207 Terabytes of SSD storage, 345.6 TB of NVMe, and the different nodes are connected to each other with a high-speed Mellanox EDR network, and interconnected to BSC file systems.