Los Alamos National Laboratory and NVIDIA announce next step in future-looking partnership

Next-generation system powered by the Grace CPU will shape the future of the Laboratory’s computing strategy

April 12, 2021

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Particle trajectories in the Southern Ocean near the tip of Africa, colored by the concentration of Dissolved Inorganic Carbon. Los Alamos scientists performed multi-decadal simulations of ocean circulation with the Energy Exascale Earth System Model with imbedded biogeochemistry (BGC), using a high-resolution mesh to focus on mesoscale (10km to 100km) effects. Interactions between ocean circulation and BGC affect a wide range of important Earth System processes.

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., April 12, 2021—Los Alamos National Laboratory today announced a major milestone resulting from its collaboration with NVIDIA  to develop tailored High Performance Computing system architectures that will meet the Laboratory’s diverse mission needs. As announced this week at GTC, the Laboratory will be the first United States customer to receive a NVIDIA Grace Central Processing Unit (CPU), with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) as the system provider; the target delivery is set for early 2023.

“With an innovative balance of memory bandwidth and capacity, this next-generation system will shape our institution’s computing strategy,” said Thom Mason, Los Alamos National Laboratory Director. “Thanks to NVIDIA’s new Grace CPU, we’ll be able to deliver advanced scientific research using high-fidelity 3D simulations and analytics with data sets that are larger than previously possible.”

The Grace CPU is an Arm-based processor that addresses the computing requirements for the world’s most data-intensive applications requiring both ultra-fast compute performance and massive amounts of fast memory. It is named for Grace Hopper, the computer-programming pioneer.

Developments from this partnership are well underway. The first step was the purchase of NVIDIA’s A100 graphic processing units (GPUs), which will be installed in Los Alamos’ latest Institutional Computing capability. The second step is the 2023 delivery of a leadership-class advanced technology supercomputer based on the Grace CPU to conduct modeling, simulation, and data analysis in support of Laboratory research and missions. The third step is a multi-year collaboration focused on codesign for a broad spectrum of computing, memory, and software technologies.

Codesign draws on the combined expertise of vendors, hardware architects, system software developers, domain scientists, computer scientists, and applied mathematicians working together to make informed decisions about hardware and software components.

“Advanced computational tools provide a powerful enabler to help advance scientific discovery and use across all our applications, ranging from climate and disease modeling to materials science, to nuclear deterrence and monitoring,” said John Sarrao, deputy director for Science, Technology and Engineering at Los Alamos. “We are pleased and excited to be on this journey with NVIDIA. Expanding the Laboratory’s compute capability with this year’s NVIDIA A100 purchase allows our researchers and engineers to grow their skills and puts us in a good position to fully engage the Grace-based system in 2023.”

The Laboratory and NVIDIA are expanding their collaboration into additional areas essential to delivering next-generation technologies for accelerating scientific computing for both high-fidelity 3D simulation and new modes of computing. These added engagement areas include systems analysis tools, I/O (advanced storage technologies), advanced high performance networking technologies and languages (libraries, PGAS), and system modeling tools.

“This new advanced research system combined with the anticipated delivery of Crossroads will provide a diverse and innovative portfolio of emerging compute platforms at Los Alamos to revitalize our research foundations,” said Irene Qualters, associate Laboratory director for Simulation and Computation.

Together with the existing partnership efforts, Los Alamos National Laboratory, NVIDIA and HPE have a clear organizational engagement to advance codesign rigor for greater efficiencies, workflows and analytics for future generations of computing beyond exascale computing.

“The approaching era of exascale AI is bringing an unprecedented wave of innovation in supercomputing,” said Ian Buck, vice president and general manager of accelerated computing at NVIDIA. “NVIDIA’s long-standing partnership with Los Alamos National Laboratory will deepen with NVIDIA Grace.”

All three organizations are working together to prove that the next decade’s version of codesign with hardware tailoring will provide unprecedented human understanding far beyond what is possible with the current trajectory.

“This is a major engagement for the Laboratory,” said Bob Webster, deputy director for Weapons at Los Alamos. “The ongoing close collaboration with NVIDIA to innovate for greater efficiency and more in-depth analytics will benefit both high-fidelity 3D simulation, new modes of computing for mission, and shape our future computing procurements.”