Berkeley Lab Deploys Next-Gen Supercomputer, Perlmutter, Bolstering U.S. Scientific Research

New Heterogeneous System Will Support Research in Advanced Computing, AI, Data Science & More

MAY 27, 2021 — The Natio­nal Ener­gy Rese­arch Sci­en­ti­fic Com­pu­ting Cen­ter (NERSC) at Law­rence Ber­ke­ley Natio­nal Labo­ra­to­ry (Ber­ke­ley Lab) today for­mal­ly unvei­led the first pha­se of its next-genera­ti­on super­com­pu­ter, Perl­mut­ter. The new sys­tem, named in honor of the Lab’s Nobel Pri­ze-win­ning astro­phy­si­cist Saul Perl­mut­ter, will great­ly incre­a­se the high per­for­mance com­pu­ting (HPC) capa­bi­li­ty for a broad spec­trum of unclas­si­fied sci­en­ti­fic rese­arch wit­hin the U.S. Depart­ment of Ener­gy (DOE) Office of Science.

The Perl­mut­ter sys­tem will play a key role in advan­cing sci­en­ti­fic rese­arch in the U.S. and is front and cen­ter in a num­ber of cri­ti­cal tech­no­lo­gies, inclu­ding advan­ced com­pu­ting, arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, and data sci­ence. The sys­tem will also be hea­vi­ly used in stu­dies of the cli­ma­te and the envi­ron­ment, clean ener­gy tech­no­lo­gies, semi­con­duc­tors and microelec­tro­nics, and quan­tum infor­ma­ti­on science.

As part of a vir­tu­al cele­bra­ti­on to announ­ce the instal­la­ti­on, Dr. Perl­mut­ter hims­elf was on hand to release the first set of offi­cial jobs on the new sys­tem. Dr. Perl­mut­ter is no stran­ger to super­com­pu­ting, having used NERSC in the rese­arch that show­ed that the expan­si­on of the uni­ver­se is acce­le­ra­ting, for which he shared the 2011 Nobel Pri­ze in Physics.

The Perl­mut­ter super­com­pu­ter will help inspi­re the next genera­ti­on of sci­en­tists and inno­va­tors, allowing the U.S. and DOE to remain a lea­der in using sci­en­ti­fic com­pu­ta­ti­on to ans­wer our grea­test ques­ti­ons,” said David Turk, DOE Depu­ty Secreta­ry. “As we con­ti­nue to enhan­ce and deploy com­pu­ting plat­forms like this, our natio­nal labs will only be bet­ter posi­tio­ned to deve­lop solu­ti­ons to today’s toughest pro­blems, from cli­ma­te chan­ge to cybersecurity.”

Depu­ty Secreta­ry Turk was one of several government digni­ta­ries who, along with repre­sen­ta­ti­ves from sci­ence and indus­try, par­ti­ci­pa­ted in the dedi­ca­ti­on event. The unvei­ling goes hand in hand with Ber­ke­ley Lab’s 90th anni­ver­s­a­ry cele­bra­ti­on,  which high­lights the nine deca­des of dis­co­very sci­ence at Ber­ke­ley Lab and ima­gi­nes the next 90 years. The Perl­mut­ter sys­tem ushers in a new chap­ter in NERSC’s high per­for­mance com­pu­ting sto­ry that star­ted more than 45 years ago.

Perl­mut­ter will pro­vi­de con­si­der­ab­ly more com­pu­ting power than our cur­rent super­com­pu­ter, Cori and will intro­du­ce several key tech­no­lo­gies that will be used in exas­ca­le sys­tems in the com­ing years,” said NERSC Direc­tor Sudip Dosan­jh. “It will enab­le a lar­ger ran­ge of app­li­ca­ti­ons than pre­vious NERSC sys­tems and is the first NERSC super­com­pu­ter desi­gned from the very begin­ning to meet the needs of both simu­la­ti­on and data analysis.”

Next-Generation HPC Fuels Team Science

Perl­mut­ter fea­tures a hete­ro­ge­ne­ous archi­tec­tu­re that will pro­vi­de four times the com­pu­ta­tio­nal power cur­r­ent­ly avail­ab­le at NERSC, making it among the fas­test super­com­pu­ters in the world for sci­en­ti­fic simu­la­ti­on, data ana­ly­sis, and arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence app­li­ca­ti­ons. To ensu­re that its users can rea­di­ly uti­li­ze this new tech­no­lo­gy, NERSC has been working with key app­li­ca­ti­on deve­lo­p­ment teams sin­ce 2019 to pre­pa­re codes for Perl­mut­ter through its NERSC Exas­ca­le Sci­ence App­li­ca­ti­ons Program.

The sys­tem, an HPE Cray EX super­com­pu­ter, is being deli­ve­r­ed in two pha­ses. Pha­se 1 fea­tures 1,536 GPU-acce­le­ra­ted nodes, each con­tai­ning four NVIDIA NVlink-con­nec­ted A100 Ten­sor Core GPUs and one AMD EPYC “Milan” CPU Pro­ces­sor. Pha­se 1 also inclu­des a 35 PB all-flash Lust­re file sys­tem that will pro­vi­de very high-band­width sto­rage. Pha­se 2, set to arri­ve later this year, will add 3,072 CPU-only nodes, each with two AMD EPYC “Milan” pro­ces­sors and 512 GB of memo­ry per node.

Today’s launch show­ca­ses our strong col­la­bo­ra­ti­on with Ber­ke­ley Lab by being one of the first sys­tems to be powe­red by the HPE Cray EX super­com­pu­ter, which lever­a­ges com­pre­hen­si­ve, next-genera­ti­on super­com­pu­ting tech­no­lo­gies,” said Bill Man­nel, vice pre­si­dent and gene­ral mana­ger, HPC, at HPE. “We are hono­red to be part of the Lab’s spe­cial day and look for­ward to see­ing Perl­mut­ter play an inte­gral role in aug­men­ting rese­arch efforts to sup­port NERSC’s ongo­ing mis­si­on in advan­cing insights for deve­lo­ping new ener­gy sources.”

Perl­mut­ter is a world-class super­com­pu­ter with AI capa­bi­li­ties that enab­le the sci­en­ti­fic com­mu­ni­ty to push the bounda­ries of super­com­pu­ting rese­arch as we enter the exas­ca­le AI era,” said Ian Buck, vice pre­si­dent and gene­ral mana­ger of acce­le­ra­ted com­pu­ting at NVIDIA. “NVIDIA GPU-acce­le­ra­ted com­pu­ting pro­vi­des incredi­ble per­for­mance and fle­xi­bi­li­ty to the wide ran­ge of HPC and AI workloads Perl­mut­ter will tackle.”

The­re has never been a more exci­ting time in high per­for­mance com­pu­ting. As an indus­try, we are dri­ving toward the exas­ca­le era with the most power­ful super­com­pu­ters that rese­ar­chers, sci­en­tists and tech­no­lo­gy lea­ders have ever seen,” said For­rest Nor­rod, seni­or vice pre­si­dent and gene­ral mana­ger, Data Cen­ter and Embed­ded Solu­ti­ons Group, AMD. “The new Perl­mut­ter sys­tem, based on the 3rd Gen AMD EPYC ser­ver pro­ces­sors, will leverage our CPU per­for­mance to sup­port the next wave of cri­ti­cal dis­co­ve­ries in are­as inclu­ding arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, cli­ma­te and envi­ron­men­tal rese­arch, quan­tum sci­ence and more. We can­not wait to see the sci­ence and dis­co­ve­ries that this sys­tem will produce.”

Ber­ke­ley Lab and NERSC have a long tra­di­ti­on of sup­por­ting team sci­ence, which is also a core tenet of Dr. Perlmutter’s lega­cy as a sci­en­tist, tea­cher, and men­tor. During the unvei­ling event, a panel of sci­en­tists who have long used NERSC resour­ces in their rese­arch dis­cus­sed the impact that Perl­mut­ter is expec­ted to have on sci­en­ti­fic dis­co­very going forward.

This is a very exci­ting time to be com­bi­ning the power of super­com­pu­ter faci­li­ties with sci­ence, and that is part­ly becau­se sci­ence has deve­lo­ped the abi­li­ty to collect very lar­ge amounts of data and bring them all to bear at one time,” Dr. Perl­mut­ter said. “This new super­com­pu­ter is exact­ly what we need to hand­le the­se data­sets. As a result, we are expec­ting to find new dis­co­ve­ries in cos­mo­lo­gy, micro­bio­lo­gy, gene­tics, cli­ma­te chan­ge, mate­ri­al sci­en­ces, and pret­ty much any other field you can think of.”

NERSC is a DOE Office of Sci­ence user facility.


About NERSC and Ber­ke­ley Lab
The Natio­nal Ener­gy Rese­arch Sci­en­ti­fic Com­pu­ting Cen­ter (NERSC) is a U.S. Depart­ment of Ener­gy Office of Sci­ence User Faci­li­ty that ser­ves as the pri­ma­ry high-per­for­mance com­pu­ting cen­ter for sci­en­ti­fic rese­arch spon­so­red by the Office of Sci­ence. Loca­ted at Law­rence Ber­ke­ley Natio­nal Labo­ra­to­ry, the NERSC Cen­ter ser­ves more than 7,000 sci­en­tists at natio­nal labo­ra­to­ries and uni­ver­si­ties rese­ar­ching a wide ran­ge of pro­blems in com­bus­ti­on, cli­ma­te mode­ling, fusi­on ener­gy, mate­ri­als sci­ence, phy­sics, che­mi­stry, com­pu­ta­tio­nal bio­lo­gy, and other disci­pli­nes. Ber­ke­ley Lab is a DOE natio­nal labo­ra­to­ry loca­ted in Ber­ke­ley, Cali­for­nia. It con­ducts unclas­si­fied sci­en­ti­fic rese­arch and is mana­ged by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cali­for­nia for the U.S. Depart­ment of Ener­gy. »Learn more about com­pu­ting sci­en­ces at Ber­ke­ley Lab.

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